Yesterday, the nonprofit group Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) released the results of a survey that asked MA candidates their views on drug sentencing laws. Criminal justice reform is an important issue so I encourage everyone to read the full survey before voting, but here’s their summary:
Drug sentencing reform is now a mainstream issue. Some candidates specifically include the issue in their campaign materials. A few of the candidates we contacted requested more information, but nobody asked, “What’s a mandatory minimum sentence?” Even those who are still fine-tuning their positions understood the issue.
Drug sentencing reform is now also a bipartisan issue. Granted, Massachusetts is heavily Democratic, but Democrats and Republicans alike favor the repeal or reform of mandatory minimums as part of an overall approach to substance abuse. This is consistent with the bipartisan support for mandatory minimum reform at the federal level and in other states. Independent or minor party candidates also favor repeal.
Of the 22 candidates who responded to our survey, most of them – 86% – favor either repeal or reform of mandatory minimum sentences for drugs.
- 16 (or nearly 73% ) support repeal;
- Another 3 (or nearly 14%) support further reforms, short of outright repeal;
- One candidate opposed repeal but is willing to listen to the experts on possible reforms;
- Only one candidate opposes repeal or further reforms;
- One candidate felt the issue was beyond the scope of the office he was seeking.
No candidate was in favor of longer mandatory minimum sentences or additional mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.
One other highlight: John Miller, the Republican candidate for Attorney General, was one of few who declined to answer. Meanwhile, Maura Healey not only expressed her support for sensible reforms, she provided the most detailed response of all 22 candidates who responded.