Demand Alternatives to Incarceration NOW

Families for Justice as Healing has been pushing for Primary Caretakers legislation for more than three years. We believe this is the session to get alternative sentencing for parents passed – but we need your support.

Right now the Primary Caretakers bill is before the Judiciary Committee. Both the Senate and the House are working on criminal justice reform omnibus bills which could cover many issue areas. We need to make sure the Primary Caretakers bill is reported favorably out of committee and/or community-based sentences for parents with dependent children is included in any criminal justice reform omnibus bill.

The fight has just begun. We cannot take this for granted. This is the vital time to move this forward.”- our founder Andrea James in the Boston Globe.

Some key points:

  • Judges and prosecutors should consider the impact of incarceration on individuals and their entire families.
  • Rather than criminalizing families, sentencing alternatives for parents of dependent children better address the root causes of substance abuse, mental health issues, and homelessness.
  • Across the Commonwealth, about 5,665 children are separated from a parent due to incarceration. Having an incarcerated parent is defined as an adverse childhood experience, exposing kids to a variety of health problems that can last a lifetime. Alternative sentences protect kids.
  • Studies show that parents who serve sentences while continuing to care for their children recidivate less.
  • Replacing punishment with public health interventions is healthier for families and more cost-effective for communities.
  • We already have community programs where parents can serve alternative sentences while staying connected with their kids, rather than in a cage.

Please call your own state representative and state senator and let them know you support sentencing alternatives for primary caretakers.

We also invite you to call members of the Judiciary Committee  and encourage them to report favorably on Senate Bill 770 and take action to include sentencing alternatives for parents in the omnibus reform bills.

Here is a possible script you may use:

“I am calling to express my support for Senate Bill 770 known as the Primary Caretakers bill. This bill would give judges the opportunity to sentence parents to community-based alternatives to incarceration so they can advance their own lives while continuing to care for their kids. Alternatives to incarceration are needed now in Massachusetts. I urge you to actively support SB770 and include Primary Caretakers language in any criminal justice reform omnibus bill because it’s healthier and safer for all of our families.

We encourage you to share our report on the benefits of alternatives to incarceration with your elected officials!

Thank you for standing up for families impacted by the criminal punishment system!

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