Criminal justice reform leaders from Massachusetts gather to examine strategies
Last week, MassINC gathered at The Boston Foundation with criminal justice reform leaders from Massachusetts and beyond to examine strategies to reduce recidivism. The public forum coincided with the release of new MassINC research estimating that repeat offenders make up more than two-thirds of defendants committed to state and county prisons in Massachusetts each year. An overflow crowd joined the conversation, which began with presentations from Ben Forman, MassINC’s Research Director, and Bruce Western, Professor of Sociology at the Kennedy School of Government.
Dr. Ana Yáñez-Correa, Program Officer for Criminal Justice at the Public Welfare Foundation, shared her experience working in Texas to refocus the criminal justice system on increasing public safety through recidivism reduction; Michael Lawlor, Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning for Connecticut, provided his perspective on how states are overhauling their corrections systems to reduce repeat offending and increase public safety; Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless shared experiences on behalf of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association; Rahsaan Hall, Director of the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU, gave his perspectives as a former DA and now as an advocate for reform; and Conan Harris, Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety Initiatives, described how Boston approaches these problems, as the destination for the largest number of inmates returning to the community.
This event is the first of many in 2016 that MassINC and the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Coalition will be participating in to raise awareness and increase understanding of these issues. With the Council of State Governments working in partnership with state leaders to examine the performance of the state’s criminal justice system, these conversations will be critical to increasing understanding of these issues and building greater awareness around changes we can make to hold offenders accountable and increase public safety in our commonwealth.Engage with us in this work by subscribing to the bi-monthly newsletter MassINC produces on behalf of the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. Also, please join us in expressing gratitude to The Boston Foundation for enabling this important civic dialogue as well as the Shaw Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, The Boston Foundation, the Hyams Foundation, and all of the individual donors who support MassINC efforts to produce high-quality criminal justice research.