Episode 94: Warren, Brownsberger go at it on criminal justice bill

The sweeping criminal justice bill that Gov. Charlie Baker signed earlier this month received widespread, but not universal, praise as a welcome turn away from the tough-on-crime policies of the 1980s and ‘90s.

One notable dissenting voice was that of Setti Warren, the former Newton mayor who is now one of three Democrats vying to challenge Baker in the November election. Warren said there was lots that he liked in the bill, which pulled back sanctions in all sorts of areas, including eliminating or ratcheting back several mandatory minimum drugs sentences. But he denounced the inclusion in the bill of new mandatory minimum sentences related to the synthetic opioids Fentanyl and Carfentanil and said he would have vetoed the legislation because of them.

Sen. Will Brownsberger, the lead Senate author of the bill, called Warren’s position “uninformed,” and said it prompted him to endorse Jay Gonzalez, one of Warren’s rivals in the Democratic primary for governor.

Warren and Brownsberger sat down together to discuss their differences in this week’s Codcast. The crux of the debate came down to finding the right balance between sticking with one’s principles and the need for compromise to move things forward.