criminal justice

US Attorney carries Trump’s message on immigrants

US Attorney carries Trump’s message on immigrants

Press releases increasingly highlight defendants’ nationalities

WHEN PRESIDENT TRUMP took office 19 months ago, the US Attorney’s office in Massachusetts started issuing more and more press releases about cases where the defendants were identified by their nationality, a move designed to draw attention to the administration’s claim that illegal immigrants pose a danger to society. “One of the things we wanted(...)

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Study Valor Act before changing it

Study Valor Act before changing it

Sensationalizing outlier cases provides distorted picture of law

MASSACHUSETTS IS ON the brink of abandoning one of the most innovative criminal justice initiatives for veterans in the nation. In 2012, after a significant amount of research and debate, the Valor Act became law. Section 16 of the act established an alternative legal pathway for veterans charged with crimes that could reasonably be connected(...)

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State follows voters’ lead on criminal justice

State follows voters’ lead on criminal justice

Polling suggests voters largely agree with broader approach

The Senate and House sent a sweeping criminal justice reform bill to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk this week. The Governor has not said how he will proceed. Details matter, and there are a lot of them to parse, but the overall thrust of the bill is very much in keeping with what voters have said(...)

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Major justice reform bill clears Legislature

Major justice reform bill clears Legislature

Signals shift in focus from punishment toward rehabilitation and substance use treatment

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE WITH ONLY A WHIFF of opposition, the Massachusetts Legislature on Wednesday passed a broad package of criminal justice system reforms that have languished for years, signaling a likely shift in focus away from punishment and toward rehabilitation and substance use treatment in an effort to reduce recidivism. The legislation (S 2371), which(...)

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DAs differ on expense approaches

DAs differ on expense approaches

No pattern or guide on office spending

AS A GROUP, the 11 district attorneys in Massachusetts are not big spenders when it comes to dining out or traveling on the state’s dime. But within the group, there are some wide variations. Overall, the district attorneys spent $67,012 over the course of a year on trips, meals, and related expenses, according to records(...)

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Confusion reigns in states with legal pot

Confusion reigns in states with legal pot

More questions, fewer answers on how US attorneys will enforce federal drug laws

THE ONE THING that is certain with the change in enforcement of federal marijuana laws is that there will be no uniform approach to enforcement by US attorneys in states that have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana. Public comments and statements from some of the 12 US attorneys in the eight states that have(...)

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Trading gangs and guns for a future

Trading gangs and guns for a future

Can we get young men to give up the dead-end life of the streets?

PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARK OSTOW HAKEEM JACKSON DOESN’T mince words. “Just a couple of years ago I was shooting at people,” he says. A wiry 20-year-old with an affable bearing, Jackson is sitting at the Boston offices of Roca Inc., a nonprofit that works with young people who have been in and out of jail and(...)

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Forensic science commission is needed

Forensic science commission is needed

Lab scandals show need for greater oversight

LET’S TALK NUMBERS, specifically 23,595. As of June 1, 2017, that was the number of convictions that were vacated as a result of Annie Dookhan’s misconduct at the Hinton Drug Laboratory between 2003 and 2009.  There’s another number out there – the number of convictions that will be vacated as a result of Sonja Farak’s(...)

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Baker opens a legal can of worms

Baker opens a legal can of worms

Pushes strict liability for deaths caused by distributing illegal drugs

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER filed new legislation last month to battle the opioid crisis. His bill proposes some “important updates” to our arsenal of weapons in this fight, one of which, he says, would add a measure of “accountability” to the current strategy of treatment, education, and prevention. Specifically, the governor intends to “ensure that those who(...)

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Warren rips Baker ‘flip-flop’

Warren rips Baker ‘flip-flop’

Says mandatory minimum drug sentence violates earlier pledge

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE GOV. CHARLIE BAKER’S new bill targeting drug dealers make him a flip-flopper, according to gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren, who appears to be taking a stance against the governor’s proposal to hit deaWlers of lethal drugs with mandatory minimum prison sentences. On Wednesday, the governor proposed legislation (S 2158) defining the illegal(...)

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