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State commission finds mandatory minimums for drug offenses should be scrapped

From the State House News service:

Mandatory minimum sentences for all drug offenses should be eliminated, a special commission studying the state's criminal justice system recommended Tuesday. The commission is trying to produce an in-progress report before the end of the year to inform the next administration. The Special Commission to Study the Commonwealth's Criminal Justice System on Tuesday began debating legislative recommendations it will make to try to strengthen post-release supervision, improve prisoner reentry outcomes and reduce recidivism, and address overcrowding in the state's jails and prisons. The commission also voted to recommend parole eligibility for all state prison sentences after an inmate has served at least two-thirds of the lower end of their sentence, except in cases of murder and manslaughter, and to maintain the current parole eligibility standard in houses of correction of half-time served on sentences of 60 days or more.

This welcome news comes a week after a Pew study found that incarcerating fewer people actually lowers the crime rate. In Massachusetts, the incarceration rate fell 12% over the past five years. During that same period, the crime rate dropped 14%.

The drug war is the primary driver of inappropriate surveillance and mass incarceration. It's good to see Massachusetts is on the path to doing away with one of its most cruel and brutal features, mandatory minimum sentencing.

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