Despite Criticism From DAs, Rosenberg Says Senate Is Committed To Criminal Justice Reform

State Senate President Stan Rosenberg says senators will consider the views of prosecutors, as lawmakers consider a broad criminal justice reform package.

In a six-page letter to Rosenberg and Sen. William Brownsberger, chair of the Judiciary Committee, nine of the state's 11 district attorneys criticized the Senate's legislation.

"This [bill] undermines the cause and pursuit of fair and equal justice for all," the nine DAs write, "largely ignores the interests of victims of crime, and puts at risk the undeniable strides and unparalleled success of Massachusetts’ approach to public safety and criminal justice for at least the last 25 years."

The Senate legislation, which is set for debate Thursday, would eliminate some drug-related mandatory minimum sentences and overhaul the state's bail system.

The district attorneys criticized the retroactive application of the mandatory minimum changes, which they argued could lead to the early release of hundreds of convicted drug traffickers.

On Tuesday, Rosenberg said he hopes the concerns of prosecutors will make the bill better, but he said the Senate is committed to reform.

"There are always groups who have concerns," the Amherst Democrat said. "That's the process. Come and talk with us. We'll take your thoughts into consideration and try to use them to improve the piece of legislation, but in the end we need meaningful reform here in the commonwealth."

He added: "By the time the process is over, hopefully we'll have a very good, strong, forward looking criminal justice bill that protects public safety but also ensures we reduce incarceration and re-incarceration."

The two district attorneys who did not sign the letter are Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan and Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan.

With reporting by WBUR's Steve Brown

This article was originally published on October 24, 2017.



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