There shall be a special commission to study the commonwealth's criminal justice system, to consist of: the secretary of public safety and security, who shall serve as the chair; the attorney general or a designee; the chief justice of the supreme judicial court or a designee; the president of the Massachusetts Sheriffs Association or a designee; the president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association or a designee; the chief counsel of the committee for public counsel services or a designee; a representative from the Massachusetts Bar Association; a representative from the Boston Bar Association; a representative from the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; 3 members of the house of representatives, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the minority leader; 3 members of the senate, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the minority leader; and 3 persons to be appointed by the governor, 1 of whom shall have experience in mental health and substance abuse and addiction treatment, 1 of whom shall have experience in providing services or supervision for offenders, and 1 of whom shall have experience in juvenile justice.
In reviewing the commonwealth's criminal justice system, the commission shall examine a variety of areas including, but not limited to: the prisoner classification systems, mandatory minimum sentences, sentencing guidelines, the provision of cost-effective corrections' healthcare, the probation system, the parole system, the operations of the sheriffs' offices, overcrowding in prisons and houses of correction, recidivism rates, the treatment of juveniles within the criminal justice system, the role that mental health and substance abuse issues play, and best practices for reintegrating prisoners into the community.
The commission shall investigate the feasibility of developing an application for technical assistance from nationally recognized criminal justice reform programs with a data driven approach in order to develop bipartisan legislation that would reduce corrections spending and utilize the savings to reduce crime, strengthen public safety and fund other budget priorities; provided, however, that the commission shall give priority in applying for technical assistance to that which comes at no cost to the commonwealth.
The commission shall have access to information related to both adults and juveniles including, but not limited to, crime, arrest, conviction, jail, prison and probation and parole supervision data provided by state and local agencies. As necessary, the commission shall: (i) meet with other affected stakeholders; (ii) partner with nongovernmental organizations that have expertise that can benefit the commission; and (iii) create advisory subgroups that include affected stakeholders as necessary.
The commission shall convene its first official meeting on or before September 1, 2011. The commission shall submit to the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on the judiciary, the joint committee on public safety and homeland security and the secretary of administration and finance quarterly reports that include the dates of its meetings, meeting participants not named to the commission and whether it has identified, applied for or been selected for any federal or other funds.
The commission shall issue a report on or before March 31, 2012, which shall include recommendations for legislation to reduce recidivism, improve overall public safety outcomes, provide alternatives for drug addicted and mentally ill defendants, increase communication and cooperation among public safety entities, reduce overcrowding of facilities, increase reliance upon evidence-based criminal justice methods, improve the collection and reporting of data on adults and juveniles, contain correction costs and otherwise increase efficiencies within the state's public safety entities.