Michael Jonas Executive Editor, CommonWealth

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth’s Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston’s largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe’s City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for “The AIDS Quarterly,” a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for “Our Times,” a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

ARTICLES By Michael Jonas

Legislators call for broader criminal justice reform

State needs to seize the opportunity for change, say lawmakers

LAWMAKERS GATHERED OUTSIDE the House chamber Tuesday to declare their commitment to wide-ranging criminal justice reforms, further evidence of a push on Beacon Hill for changes that go beyond a consensus bill rolled out by Gov. Charlie Baker in February. “We are all here united today because we believe that this session is an opportunity

Voc-tech tension

Massachusetts vocational schools are a big success story, but are they shutting out those who might need them most?

KELSEY CLARK, A SENIOR at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, is showing a visitor work from her graphic design portfolio. There is a pointillism-style poster she drew for assignment to promote a rock concert (she says it left her practically drawing dots in her sleep). A brightly colored infographic poster that she

The Codcast: Missed opportunities with new K-12 plan

Ben Forman talks MA state plan

Massachusetts is about to submit to the US Department of Education its plan for monitoring and holding schools accountable under the new Every Student Succeeds Act, the law passed in late 2015 that replaced the No Child Left Behind law. The new law, which, like the No Child statute, is really a reauthorization of landmark

State leaders unveil bill aimed at cutting recidivism

Officials divided on further changes, Gants urges repeal of most mandatory minimums

STATE LEADERS UNVEILED long-awaited legislation Tuesday aimed at reducing recidivism rates in the criminal justice system. But whether the bill tackles the most pressing issue facing the system or simply marks a good first step in what should be a more sweeping reform process depends on which leader is speaking. That divide is likely to

Senators outline broad criminal justice reform agenda

Lawmakers look to broaden scope beyond pending report

SAYING THE TIME is right for the state to take a look at sweeping criminal justice reforms, a group of Democratic state senators is urging the Legislature to take up bills addressing everything from mandatory minimum drug sentences to fines and fees that lawmakers say are unfairly leading some people to spend time behind bars

Activists interrupt criminal justice meeting

Advocates worried reform bill won’t address sentencing issues

CHANTING “JOBS NOT JAIL,” advocates for criminal justice reform briefly disrupted the final meeting of a state criminal justice policy commission today, part of a growing chorus of voices expressing concern that state leaders are preparing to put forward legislation that won’t include major changes to sentencing laws. The protest came as advocates and lawmakers

Mapping incarceration in Boston

Study finds minority neighborhoods burdened by high jail rates

A SWATH OF mostly minority Boston neighborhoods is so heavily affected by the criminal justice system that nearly every street has a resident who has spent time in jail, a concentration of incarceration that is costing millions of dollars and threatening the social fabric of neighborhoods already struggling with high rates of poverty and other

Gants launches study of racial disparities in incarceration

Chief justice also "encouraged" by progress on wider criminal justice policy review

THE STATE MUST confront racial disparities in imprisonment rates and move to “reimagine” a flawed criminal justice system to focus less on incarceration and more on lowering recidivism, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants said on Thursday. Delivering his third annual address on the state of the judiciary since becoming the Commonwealth’s top judge,

The charter funding debate

Lots of the conflict is over short-term vs. long-term picture

IN THE HIGH-STAKES battle over charter school expansion, the impact of charters on school finances has come front and center. Supporters of Question 2, which would allow up to 12 new charter schools or expansion of 12 existing schools per year, argue that the funding formula for charter schools holds districts harmless when students move

The ‘third way’ in education

Education leaders seek to bridge the charter-district divide

POLARIZATION AND TRENCH WARFARE, the partisan watchwords these days in Washington, have also come to define education debates. In Massachusetts, as much as $30 million could be spent between now and November in what promises to be a bloody showdown between charter school advocates and opponents over a ballot question to raise the charter school

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