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Mass. officials to release criminal justice report

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Top Massachusetts officials from the executive, legislative, and judicial branch are unveiling Tuesday a long-awaited report from a nonprofit on reforming the state’s criminal justice system.

The report’s recommendations, at the request of leaders, is expected to include ways in which the state could reduce the number of incarcerated people who are released but then end up back in jail or prison.

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Recent state data showed that about 35 percent of people released in 2011 were back in the criminal justice system again within three years, according to a letter to the nonprofit, the Council of State Governments, from Beacon Hill leaders.

Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and state Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants are poised to announce the report’s findings.

It’s an unusual bipartisan group that stretches across the three branches of state government. Baker and Polito are Republicans from, respectively, Swampscott and Shrewsbury. Rosenberg and DeLeo are Democrats from Amherst and Winthrop. Gants, of Lexington, is seen as liberal on criminal justice issues.


Companion legislation is expected Tuesday, or in coming days.

But there is already controversy.

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Before the report was released, advocates and liberal legislators were already saying it would be insufficient. They are hoping for broader reform of the state’s system for meting out punishment to those who break the law.

Such changes could include adjustments to state laws on bail, mandatory minimum sentences, solitary confinement, prison programming, parole eligibility, and community supervision practices.

One liberal-leaning group, the Jobs Not Jails Coalition, for example, is calling to end “the failed and costly program of mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes” and the racial disparities therein.

Rosenberg supports ending mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. Baker and DeLeo are more circumspect.

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos and subscribe to his weekday e-mail update on politics at bostonglobe.com/politicalhappyhour.



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