DAs signal lack of opposition to criminal justice bill
Top Massachusetts prosecutors signaled Tuesday they will not oppose sweeping legislation that aims to reduce the number of people ensnared in the criminal justice system and keep young offenders out of court.
The statement from the president of the Massachusetts District Attorney Association comes a day before the Senate and the House of Representatives are poised to send the bill to Governor Charlie Baker.
Last year, the vast majority of the state’s elected district attorneys expressed vociferous opposition to some provisions that made it into the final version of the bill, including one that would forbid parents from testifying against their minor children in almost all circumstances.
But on Tuesday, Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey, the MDAA president, took a conciliatory tone and emphasized the parts of the bill prosecutors support.
Although he said the full association had not met since House and Senate negotiators reached a compromise in March between the two chambers’ versions, Morrissey said he has spoken recently to a number of his counterparts.
“It is clear that as District Attorneys we respect the difficulty and complexity of creating legislation that addresses so many different issues,” Morrissey said in a statement. “As we have from the beginning, we applaud the Legislature for making some necessary and welcome changes — of note are the strengthening some drug laws, reduction of fines and fees, limiting collateral consequences, and addressing multiple-offense impaired driving.”
Morrissey, a Democrat, said the bill is clearly the result of hard work and thoughtful compromise.
In that same spirit, he continued, “we will also continue to work productively with the Legislature and the Governor where further clarification and technical improvements are needed to move this sweeping bill forward.”
Baker has not yet taken a public position on the legislation.