Massachusetts Sen. Cynthia Creem (center) is the branch's new majority leader.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

With changes in place in Senate leadership, can we expect an overhaul to the criminal justice system to follow? Last week, Massachusetts Senate President Harriette Chandler named a new second in command, Sen. Cynthia Creem, a Democrat from Newton. Chandler previously held that position when Amherst's Stan Rosenberg was Senate president. 

Sen. Adam Hinds exits the Massachusetts Senate office wing around 1:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, after the branch finished a marathon criminal justice debate.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

As we near the end of 2017, we check in with Matt Murphy of State House News Service for an update on the major issues of the year for the Massachusetts legislature. 

Cara Rintala is handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom after being found guilty of first-degree murder in Hampshire Superior Court on Friday, Oct. 7, 2016.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette /

A Massachusetts judge has refused to order NBC to turn over unedited video from a news segment on the Anne Marie Rintala murder. Rintala's wife, Cara Rintala, was found guilty last year of first degree murder.

Sonja Farak, left, stands during her arraignment at Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Mass., Tuesday Jan. 22, 2013.
Don Treeger / The Republican /

Western Massachusetts prosecutors will dismiss more than 5,000 drug convictions tied to former drug chemist Sonja Farak. 

Outside a Massachusetts polling place.
Robin Lubbock / WBUR

Massachusetts lawmakers have their work cut out for them as they try to negotiate a final criminal justice bill.

Gov. Charlie Baker, right, swears in Colonel Kerry Gilpin, left, with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.
Courtesy Office of Gov. Charlie Baker

We start our look back at the week's news with two criminal justice bills passed separately by both chambers of the Massachusetts legislature. 

An aerial view of the Massachusetts State House in Boston in June, 2017.
AbhiSuryawanshi / Creative Commons

In a major step toward justice system overhauls, both branches of the Massachusetts state legislature have now approved bills that do away with mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug crimes, restrict the use of solitary confinement, allow for the expungement of juvenile records and strengthen laws against fentanyl trafficking. 

When juveniles are convicted of crimes in the state of Massachusetts, their criminal records may haunt them long past their punishments, with the potential to hurt job, housing and education prospects.

A provision in a proposed criminal justice reform bill, which the House begins debating Monday, would allow some of those records to be expunged after a period of time.

Jefferson Alvarez, a 22-year-old from Lawrence, hopes to one day seal and expunge a criminal record he obtained when he was a high school freshman.

Anne / Creative Commons

The Massachusetts Senate has already checked a criminal justice overhaul off its to-do list. Last week, the State House checked off a measure guaranteeing free birth control. But there's a lot left to do, with legislative deadlines looming.


The Board of Selectmen of Montague, Massachusetts, was scheduled to meet Monday night to confirm an acting police chief.