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Criminal justice bill reaches finish line

Baker signs comprehensive legislation, while signaling concern with parts of it

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER signed sweeping criminal justice legislation on Friday, capping several years of discussion on Beacon Hill and casting Massachusetts squarely in the national wave of rethinking tough-on-crime laws of the 1980s and 90s. Flanked at the State House by more than a dozen lawmakers from both parties, Baker said, “Viewed as a whole,

CommonWealth’s Spring 2018 issue is out!

Read the rundown

  Here’s a rundown of what’s in our spring print issue, which is in the mail and available online. You may have heard something about infighting in Fall River between wunderkind Mayor Jasiel Correia and the city’s political establishment. Now get a sense of what’s really going on. Ted Siefer portrays a mayor who isn’t

State follows voters’ lead on criminal justice

The Topline

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

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

Reflecting Back on the Criminal Justice Data Revolution

The MassCJRC Journal

Reflecting Back on the Criminal Justice Data Revolution A footnote to the story will be that Florida received far more attention at the time for passing a very similar measure that same month, but it was Massachusetts that put its brains to work and created the model, going from a state where district attorneys had

Democracy is breaking out all over Massachusetts

The Topline

2018 was supposed to be the year of blockbuster match-ups in Massachusetts. The de facto leaders of both parties are running for reelection, offering the prospect of bruising contests for both Senate and the Governor’s office. Instead, the two main event races are blowouts so far, while a bevy of interesting and important elections are

DA candidates seek to capitalize on public desire for new approach to criminal justice

The Topline

Criminal justice reform legislation has yet to emerge from conference committee on Beacon Hill, but many of the ideas the legislature debated in writing their bills are now making their way into District Attorney races across the state. Polling we’ve conducted shows these ideas are popular among large swaths of the public, setting up potentially interesting contests of ideas

Traffic ahead?

The present and future of transportation in Massachusetts

This morning The MassINC Polling Group released its latest polling on voter opinions on transportation in Massachusetts at an event hosted by Transportation for Massachusetts. The research was made possible by The Barr Foundation. The event couldn’t have been more timely. During the presentation, news broke that Massachusetts had dropped from first to eight in

TransitMatters pushes ‘regional rail’

Would transform commuter rail into subway-like system

TRANSITMATTERS, a nonprofit known for delving into the nitty gritty of very specific transportation issues, went in a different direction on Tuesday, releasing a sweeping report calling for a multi-billion-dollar overhaul of the state’s commuter rail system over the course of a decade or more. Dubbed regional rail, the ambitious proposal calls for transforming a rail network

Press coverage

  • MCGEE: Lynn Deserves Great Transportation

    Once an industrial force in the state’s economy, the city of Lynn has become a prime example of how an economy can languish when transportation infrastructure is lacking.

    Yet, Lynn isn’t alone. As a Gateway City, it is a part of a bigger story of urban centers that are a key piece of the Commonwealth’s economic puzzle, but face debilitating social and economic issues due largely in part to a lack of transportation options. A MassINC and Brookings Institute report revealed that “incomplete transportation networks represent the most visible shortcoming in the Gateway Cities’ infrastructure connectivity.”

    Read more…

  • 8 innovative things ‘Gateway Cities’ in Massachusetts are doing to bounce back from the Great Recession

    Activating waterfront property that once drew mill workers along the Merrimack River. Turning an historic Worcester park into an art gallery. A “pop-up restaurant” to help advance the careers of food entrepreneurs in Fitchburg.

    Those were some of the initiatives underway across the Bay State, meant to serve as catalyst in their respective “Gateway Cities” as they recover from the Great Recession.

    Massachusetts has 26 so-called “Gateway Cities,” urban regions that have traditionally provided economic pathways to residents and immigrants, according to the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute, which is under nonprofit think tank MassINC. While Boston is the likely front-runner, 9 Gateway Cities submitted bids for Amazon’s second headquarters.

    “Cities are now factories for ideas,” and it’s ideas and creativity that are drawing in businesses like Google and Apple, according to Mark Davy, a consultant and the founder of Futurecity, who spoke at a MassINC celebration of Gateway Cities.

    The initiatives in Pittsfield, Lawrence and elsewhere were honored Wednesday at the Gateway Cities Innovation Awards and Summit, held inside a brick mill building overlooking the Merrimack in Lawrence.

    Read more…

  • Criminal justice reform: Business as usual is not an option

    Among the highlights of the bill championed by Hinds and sponsored by Sen. Will Brownsberger, D-Belmont, Senate chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, are repealing “ineffective mandatory minimum sentences for low level drug offenders,” reducing and eliminating overburdensome fees and fines, reforming the bail system, allowing for compassionate release for infirmed inmates, and reforms to the juvenile justice system, Hinds said.Hinds pointed to a what he called a “profound study” by MassINC, an independent think tank whose director of research, Ben Forman, presented at the conference later in the day. The study examined incarceration rates and their geographical distribution in the city of Boston.

    Read more…

  • Black, Latino communities seek voice in criminal justice reform

    One report from the MassINC think tank found that cash bail tends to be set higher for black defendants than for white defendants.

    Read more…

  • Is this the year Massachusetts will eliminate mandatory minimum sentences?

    Advocates for repeal say they are seeing more momentum and more political openness to the idea than ever before. But making changes will not be easy, with opposition from many of the state’s prosecutors. Democratic state senators have been leading the charge to end some mandatory minimums, but Democratic House leaders have been more reticent. Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, has been noncommittal.

    “We’re starting to see a shift in political opinion that reflects public opinion,” said Ben Forman, research director of MassINC, a think tank that supports criminal justice reform.

    Read more…

Coming up

Why support massinc?

  • We enjoy what we do.

    Whether it’s planning events, conducting research, or analyzing the news, our team works on projects that we’re passionate about.
  • We develop leaders.

    Former MassINC employees have gone on to work at reputable organizations like Harvard University, Boston University, City Year, EnerNOC, and Governor Baker’s office.  
  • We stick with it.

    Our work on transformative development, which uses public and private funding for projects to revitalize an entire downtown or urban neighbor­hood, began as Policy Center research report in 2013. A year later, the state legislature passed a bill funding transformative development projects across Massachusetts.
  • We are nonpartisan.

    Our Board of Directors includes prominent Massachusetts Democrats and Republicans. We are interested people’s ideas, not which side of the aisle they sit on.
  • We have a complete toolbox.

    We aren’t just a think tank. We bring nonpartisan research, civic engagement, journalism, and independent polling together under one roof.
  • We have state-wide reach.

    We know that Beacon Hill isn’t the only place to make progress. We’re on the ground in cities across the state working with local leaders.
  • We have unique networks.

    We use our connections to bring together a cross-section of diverse leaders to solve problems. Our networks include mayors, economic development directors, superintendents, business people, newspaper editors, arts leaders, and regional transit officials.  

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  • MassINC is a key partner to the Boston Foundation, and all of us who are seeking to advance the regional conversation around economic opportunity and a strong quality of life for all.  MassINC's robust, nonpartisan research is exactly what our citizens and leaders need to make good decisions.

    Paul Grogan, President of The Boston Foundation

  • I watch my inbox for CommonWealth magazine’s Daily Download. I can count on the newsletter to tell me succinctly what’s happening in politics and public policy. The magazine itself always delivers in-depth news, analysis and commentary. It's simply outstanding, quality journalism. I am happy to support unbiased reporting through my participation in Citizens Circle.

    Helen Chin Schlichte
    Former Public Administrator; President Emeritus, South Cove Manor at Quincy Point

  • MassINC's long-term dedication to Gateway Cities makes them a valuable resource to all of our communities. They are a true thought partner. They go the distance to help others appreciate our unique opportunities, needs, and perspectives.

    Tim McGourthy Executive Director of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau

  • MassINC serves as a credible, thoughtful resource for all of us who are invested in the future of the Commonwealth. Its emphasis on careful analysis that is grounded in data, research, and polling makes an important contribution to and helps elevate the conversation about the challenges and opportunities facing the region.

    Trevor Pollack, Manager of Special Projects for the Barr Foundation

  • The potential of Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities is limitless. MassINC’s dedicated work in promoting these cities has been, and will continue to be, instrumental in their individual and collective success.

    Jay Ash
    Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development and former chair of the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute

  • MassINC has always provided research showing the detrimental impact of the state’s unforgiving criminal justice system on our communities. Their polling confirmed that the public understood the need for change in our system. That criminal justice reform is at the forefront of bipartisan local and national debates today is in no small measure due to MassINC’s persistent and fair commitment to the issue.

    Juliette Kayyem Faculty Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Founder Kayyem Solutions LLC

  • Through my partnership with MassINC, the Building On What Works Coalition is working to unite a diverse collection of civic leaders around an urgent call to encourage the state to act on the progress that has been made ensuring all children in Massachusetts have a true chance to succeed in the state’s economy. MassINC’s research and commitment to data driven public policy are helping to give the children of Massachusetts a better education.

    Kim Driscoll Mayor of Salem

  • MassINC's work with the Gateway Cities is unmatched. As Eastern Bank strives to help businesses in these communities thrive, MassINC has been a tremendous partner, providing data-driven research and affirming that these cities are full of opportunities.

    Bob Rivers Eastern Bank President and COO

  • When MassINC speaks, it’s well worth listening. After all, the nonpartisan think tank has established itself as a thoughtful, careful, credible voice on public policy in Massachusetts.

    Scot Lehigh Boston Globe Op-Ed Columnist

  • Few organizations in the country have better understood the important role of governance reform and accountability in education policy and economic development than MassINC.

    Bruce Katz Vice President and Founding Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution

  • [MassINC's] understanding of the complexity of the challenges facing the state’s older cities, its belief in the opportunities that present themselves in those communities, and its advocacy of the role that public higher education can and should play in them, has added to the understanding that policy makers need to have as they move our state toward the future.

    Jean MacCormack

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