The Platform of the Massachusetts Democratic
PART VI: SAFETY, JUSTICE & CRIME PREVENTION
We believe the people of the Commonwealth have a right to safety in their
homes, on the streets, and in our schools and workplaces. We endorse a strategy
that focuses on reducing the number and severity of criminal offenses while
creating and strengthening crime-resistant communities. We support arrest,
conviction, and punishment for the perpetrators of crime, and stand fast
for the victims of crime so that they do not, in turn, become victims of
the system. In order to correct the unconscionable delays that have compromised
many criminal investigations in the Commonwealth, we strongly support enhanced
funding of the State Crime Laboratory and the Office of the Medical Examiner.
We favor legislation to extend the statute of limitations for a criminal
or civil action relating to rape to one year from the date on which the
identity of a suspect is established by DNA testing. We strongly oppose
the use of discriminatory racial profiling practices in law enforcement.
We believe the best possible anti-crime strategy is early intervention and
prevention. We seek to build on the proven success that preventionbased
approaches such as community policing and outreach to troubled young people
have had in dramatically reducing crime, including violent crime and homicide,
in the Commonwealth and across the country. We support increased efforts
to work with troubled young people and we support the development of secure
substance abuse treatment facilities for adolescents and women. We call
for increased efforts to provide parental training to young parents. We
support heightened efforts to provide teens with summer jobs, expanded employment
opportunities, and safe community centers.
Guns and Assault Weapons.
We believe that strong state and federal gun laws help keep firearms out
of the hands of criminals and children, and reduce violence in communities,
homes, workplaces, and schools. We strongly oppose efforts to repeal or
roll back vital protections like the Brady Bill, and the Assault Weapons
Ban, and background checks for gun buyers. We support measures to close
existing loopholes in the state ban on the sale of assault weapons, requiring
safety devices on guns, and the establishment of a ballistic fingerprinting
data bank. We endorse increased efforts to track and prosecute illegal gun
The Death Penalty.
We restate our Party’s continued opposition to the death penalty, and its
support for the alternative, life in prison, without parole.
We support sentences that are tough and fair, consistent and proportionate.
We support sentencing guidelines as one way of ensuring fairness and uniformity,
as well as providing the most efficient use of state resources in the fight
against crime. We believe in consistent, long-term sentences for serious
and violent criminals, and the option of alternative sanctions for nonviolent
criminals. We favor expanded use of drug courts. We are deeply concerned
by evidence of striking racial disparities in certain sentencing patterns
among persons convicted of similar or identical offenses.
We support measures to stop family violence, including putting full-time,
trained advocates in court rooms to assist victims of domestic violence
in obtaining protective orders, developing personal safety plans, and securing
other available services. We support programs for children who witness violence,
and measures to protect children from domestic violence in custody proceedings.
We urge a greater focus on batterers who demonstrate a high probability
of repeating or escalating their violence. We support expansion of programs
that provide adequate shelters for victims of domestic violence.
We support the changes that have made our criminal justice system more attuned
to the concerns of crime victims and their families, and urge continued
work to increase this responsiveness. We support greater use of restitution
and other means of restorative justice. We recognize the need for expanded
counseling services for all those who may feel the impact of a crime, such
as the family members of convicted batterers.
We call for probation to be integrated into a unified approach to law enforcement
and corrections. We support policies that allow for swift and consistent
punishment of probation violations and call for and community corrections
programs We support increased use of tools such as substance abuse testing,
electronic position monitoring, and day reporting requirements to tighten
our control over the behavior of probationers.
We must continue to deal swiftly and firmly with violent juvenile offenders,
holding violent juveniles accountable, while providing immediate intervention
for lesser offenders. We support the community-based juvenile corrections
system that has become a national model, providing a broad range of alternatives
with respect to young people who have broken the law.
We support efforts to ensure adequate prison space to house convicted violent
offenders. We view prison overcrowding as a threat to the safety and welfare
of the public, correctional officers, and inmates. We believe that it is
a responsibility of government to incarcerate persons convicted of serious
crimes. We oppose housing Massachusetts inmates in out-of-state facilities,
and we oppose the privatization of correctional facilities. We call for
more appropriate and secure facilities for female prisoners
We support increased literacy education and similar skills training to better
direct inmates into new lives as productive and contributing members of
society following their release. We support drug and alcohol treatment,
increased mentoring opportunities, post-release supervision, and AfterCare
initiatives for inmates and persons on probation as a common sense approach
to reducing repeat offenses and recidivism.
We support publicly funded legal services to provide legal representation
and advice on issues such as housing, employment, domestic violence, health,
elder law, public benefits, and immigration. We urge full state and federal
funding of such services. We support efforts to encourage members of the
bar to provide pro bono legal services.
We reaffirm our intolerance for verbal and physical assaults against any
person on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, disability, gender, or
sexual orientation. We support efforts to eliminate prejudice through education
and advocate training for our law enforcement personnel to assist them in
recognizing and responding more effectively to this type of crime. We support
legislation to combat hate crimes, and the collection and dissemination
of information about their prevalence by governmental agencies such as the
U.S. Department of Justice.
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