Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Good Samaritan Law and Mandatory Minimum Reform Bills--URGENT ACTION NEEDED NOW!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011 6:50 PM

[Attachment(s) from alex arsenault included below]
Hey Folks.  

I know we are all familiar with the MMJ and Legalization bill that have been filed for this session.  However, there are a number of other bills being introduced that deserve our support as well.  It should be noted that the Good Samaritan bill nearly passed lass session (got all the way to the 3rd reading on the floor) and the mandatory minimum repeal is being sponsored by Deval Patrick.  I.E both of these bills stand a good chance of passing if we put our weight behind them.  The deadline to get co-signers for this legislation is on Friday, the 4th.  Please take some time to lend your support as detailed below.

1. Massachusetts 911 Good Samaritan Bill (HD02783, sponsor: Rep, Alice Peisch and SD01415, sponsor: Sen. Steven Tolman) which would provide limited immunity from drug possession charges and prosecution when a drug-related overdose victim or a witness to an overdose seeks medical attention. This bill is being pushed forward by the MA Department of Public Health as well as the Good Samaritan Campaign which includes organizers and advocates from MOAR, the AIDS Policy Task Force, and overdose prevention centers around the state. Last year, the bill made significant progress, but died in its third reading in the House. We must show our legislators that this bill is our priority, and we're going to need all the help we can get.
2. Criminal Justice Reform Bill (HD02272, sponsor: Rep. Ben Swan and SD01654, sponsor: Sen. Steven Tolman) which would allow courts to impose punishment that fit the crime, instead of one-size-fits-all mandatory minimum sentences that ignore the facts of a case, lead to disproportionately harsh sentences and waste taxpayers' money. It would also allow current prisoners to better prepare for their return to the community.

3 An Act to Reform the "School Zone" Law for Drug Offenses (HD02371 and SD01652) would return the school zone law to its original purpose - protecting children. It would reduce the size of the zone to 100 feet, the same as for parks and playgrounds, and get rid of the double penalty for those who live near a school. It would also repeal the mandatory prison sentence and make current prisoners eligible for parole, work release and earned good time credits.

Again, we need to get co-signers for this bill by THIS FRIDAY. Here's where you come in:

1. Send an e-mail blast to all of your group members letting them know about these bills. The more people we can get aware, the better. Any media you can contact, do it--student newspapers are great, websites, anything to get the word out.

2. Start sending emails and calling legislators today to tell them that you support these bills and would like them be a cosponsor. There is a form letter available on Families Against Mandatory Minimums' website that you can use (http://capwiz.com/famm/issues/alert/?alertid=23876501), or there is another drafted by MOAR (which includes a few other pieces of legislation as well) that I've attached. You can also print out the form letters and get them signed by members of your organization and send them via snailmail--or if you live in/around Boston we can come pick them up from you and deliver them in person. Phone calls are even better, you can use the script from the form letter if necessary--just be calm, consistent, and courteous. Organizing a call-in day would be great--the more calls we get in by Friday, the more urgent these bills will appear to legislators, and the more likely it is that we can get them passed in this legislative session.
3. If you live in/around Boston and want to come lobby in person and hand-deliver signed statements of support to the State House this Friday, February 4th, you can contact me (Alex Arsenault) at 413-658-7257 or jumpingjimikers@gmail.com. This is a great way to get to know the legislative process first-hand and show that there is a real, tangible support base for these bills that cannot be ignored.

OK guys, that's it. I know it's short notice, but change doesn't often happen conveniently during business hours--this is one of those times. Let's show the state of Massachusetts that drug law reform isn't just a one-trick pony, that there's a whole lot of other ways we can start to chip away at the Prison Industrial Complex and fight for each others' freedom! I know we can do it!

-Alex Arsenault
Attachment(s) from alex arsenault

1 of 1 File(s)


  1. Thank you SO much for posting FAMM's information about contacting legislators to co-sponsor our bills. Please note that the bill listed here as the "Criminal Justice Reform Bill" is actually called "An Act to Repeal Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws for Drug Offenses." The Governor's bill is a separate bill which includes some excellent reforms but also many other criminal justice issues.


    Barbara J. Dougan
    Massachusetts Project Director
    Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)
    P.O. Box 57
    Newton, MA 02468
    (617) 543-0878

  2. I'm glad to have received FAMM's information from Alex Arsenault and more than happy to repost it here.Thank you, Barbara, for including the distinction between Governor Patricks's bill and the Act to Repeal Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws for Drug Offenses. I hope it inspires every reader to take action soon, and often.