Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said Thursday the state is expanding programs to reduce the number of criminals who re-offend. He's aiming to cut that number in half over the next five years.
Patrick is making this push in his final year in office, but he says he's been saying for years that the state’s criminal justice policies need to change.
“For a long time, tough-on-crime policies made good sound-bites, but they have not made us safer," Patrick said. "They have cost us a fortune and they have contributed to the unwise and unnecessary devastation of entire communities and multiple generations.”
In one part of the plan, Patrick is partnering with sheriffs in Berkshire, Essex, Hampden, Hampshire and Suffolk counties to move offenders from medium- and maximum-security facilities into county jails closer to home.
“This is significant because the inmates can benefit from community based programs, re-engage with the support of family members, and establish trusting relationships with service providers in the neighborhoods they themselves will soon join," he said.
A new report by MassINC says people released from high security prisons re-offend at twice the rate as those leaving lower security facilities.
Patrick also solitary confinement and restraints on mentally ill prisoners should only be used as last resorts, and said the state would end the use of restraints on pregnant inmates in labor.