CRIMINAL JUSTICE

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

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 flickr.com/photos/ilike / 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.

MassLive

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

Sens. Spilka, Brownsberger, and Rosenberg spoke to reporters after the Senate adjourned early Friday morning.
Andy Metzger / State House News Service

The Senate passed legislation early Friday that could make drug traffickers in Massachusetts liable for murder while substantially reducing other criminal penalties for drug dealing in an effort to reduce the state's prison population and give offenders a better chance at turning around their lives.

Hampden County Jail in Ludlow, Mass.
File photo / MassLive

The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday begins debate on criminal justice legislation designed to reduce the number of people incarcerated. But there's uncertainty over what it means for the state budget.

State Sen. William Brownsberger, at right, has proposed a criminal justice bill that he says is about "lifting people up."
Sam Doran / State House News Service

The Massachusetts Senate begins debate Thursday on a wide-ranging criminal justice bill

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