April 27, 2018

Governor Baker signs major Criminal Justice Reform bill into law

There’s a big national effort to reform the criminal justice system across the country, and Massachusetts has now put it into action action by passing the biggest overhaul to our criminal code in decades.

Among the reforms included in the combined House and Senate bills are:

  • Increasing pre-trial diversion options to keep more people out of the court room and keep these interactions off of Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) background checks,
  • Shortening record sealing time for felony convictions from 10 to 7 years, and 5 to 3 years for misdemeanors,
  • Requiring that judges take a person’s ability to pay into strong consideration when setting cash bail amounts such as to not put people in jail for longer than needed simply because they can’t afford to make bail,
  • Repealing many mandatory minimums for non-violent offenses, which helps keep low-level offenders out of prison for longer than needed,
  • Doing as much as possible to keep juveniles out of the criminal justice system so that mistakes made young don’t necessarily follow you for your whole life,
  • Bringing the court system into the 21st century by utilizing more modern messaging to remind people of their upcoming court dates, as well as using data-driven analysis to better understand the system and inform decisions.

The Boston Bar Association has been a long-time and proud advocate of many of the changes encompassed in this landmark legislation. Our report entitled “No Time to Wait: Recommendations for a Fair and Effective Criminal Justice System” laid forth our proposals for where we felt improvements were most needed, and we were thrilled that many of those ideas were incorporated into the law, thanks in large part to the ongoing advocacy from our members, the public, and our Government Relations Team Michael Avitzur and Alexa Daniels.

If you have questions about how these reforms might affect you, or need representation in court, call the Boston Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service at 617-742-0625 or fill out our online form here to be connected with an area attorney who specializes in criminal law. Get the professional and expert advice that you deserve.