Advancing Change in Massachusetts’ Policing and Corrections Systems
UPDATE – July 8, 2020: The Massachusetts Senate is set to vote tomorrow. Please contact your Senator today and urge them to support Senate Bill 2800 along with amendments 3 and 4, which will have a particular impact on LGBTQ adults and youth, particularly low-income LGBTQ people and LGBTQ people of color, who are disproportionately subjected to policing and incarceration.
SB 2800, An Act to Reform Police Standards and Shift Resources to Build a More Equitable, Fair and Just Commonwealth that Values Black Lives and Communities of Color (Reform, Shift + Build Act) takes important steps toward addressing systemic racism and brutalities in policing – including limiting qualified immunity for police and redirecting funding from policing and corrections towards community investment.
Amendment 3: Juvenile justice data
Submitted by Senator Creem
This amendment requires collection of comprehensive data on the intersection of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity of children and youth impacted by the juvenile legal system.
LGBTQ youth of color are disproportionately represented in our juvenile legal systems nationally, but there is no Massachusetts-specific data collection requirements to ensure we understand the needs of LGBTQ youth locally to support our goals of reducing pipelines to incarceration. Thorough, intersectional and transparent data are critical to understanding and addressing the needs of the Commonwealth’s youth and ensuring services and supports to youth in our communities.
Amendment 4: LGBTQI prisoners held in restrictive housing
Submitted by Senator Cyr
Incarcerated LGBTQ people are disproportionately subjected to solitary confinement (also referred to as restrictive housing), a profoundly harmful practice that the United Nations has categorized as torture. This amendment adds voluntary disclosure of a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity to preexisting restrictive housing data collection requirements in state and county correctional facilities and requires the collection of data on victims of sexual violence held in restrictive housing.
The data collected through these measures will provide a foundation for future evidence-based reforms to end the discriminatory treatment of LGBTQ people, particularly low-income LGBTQ people and LGBTQ people of color, in restrictive housing and the criminal justice system.
In the midst of ongoing protests and demonstrations calling out the need to address the brutalities and systemic racism in our policing and criminal legal systems, SB 2800, the Reform, Shift + Build Act, is an opportunity to advance real and necessary change in these systems.