State Senate approves criminal justice reform bill


BOSTON (WWLP) – The Senate’s criminal justice reform bill includes provisions that would change the state’s sentencing policies, juvenile justice system and expand efforts to keep people out of prison.

State Senators debated reforms to the bill throughout Thursday evening and approved the bill at around 1:30 a.m. Friday in a 27-10 vote.

Under the bill, 18-year-olds would be considered part of the juvenile justice system and youth would have a better chance at erasing their records.

The bill also calls for repeals of mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug offenses.

“We are in a substance abuse crisis,” State Senator Eric Lesser said. “We need to acknowledge that we can’t jail our way out of all of these problems. We need better programs, we need more prevention. We need to take on substance abuse as the underlying cause of crime.”

The bill now moves on to the House for consideration.

The proposal must be approved by both chambers and get the Governor’s signature before it can become law.

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