The event included a discussion on how public opinion is changing on criminal justice reform in Massachusetts.
Gov. Deval Patrick was the featured speaker at the event and outlined several initiatives including increased access to education and work-training opportunities to prepare inmates for reentry into society as part of an effort to reduce repeat offenses by 50 percent over the next five years. Patrick backed ongoing reforms to the Department of Correction’s inmate classification system, which he said could include allowing points for misbehavior to go away after a period of time, allowing them to move from medium to minimum security and receive “good time.”
Patrick has proposed an additional 64 substance abuse treatment beds he said would allow the state to stop sending civilly committed individuals to correctional facilities in Bridgewater and Framingham.
John Larivee told the News Services he believes 64 new substance abuse beds in the governor’s budget will not meet the demand. Larivee also hopes the state will do away with more mandatory minimum sentences, though he doubts whether that will have enough support to pass and supported the governor’s words on expanding services so people avoid incarceration.
“I know that the opposition to removing mandatory sentencing is strong,” Larivee said. “I was pleased to hear what he said about mental illness and how we handle that. It’s not the fault of the Department of Corrections or the sheriffs’ departments. We give them our mentally ill we can’t care for in the community and expect them to manage them, so we’ve got to do a better job about providing treatment options in the community.”