Open Letter to the District Attorneys

In a letter to District Attorneys across the state, a coalition of 40 Massachusetts-based community, religious, advocacy, and civil rights organizations demands that prosecutors immediately dismiss all drug convictions tainted by the Hinton and Amherst Drug Lab scandals. Families for Justice as healing helped draft the letter.

The letter calls on prosecutors to expeditiously repair the harm done to the tens of thousands of people with tainted convictions who continue to suffer collateral consequences including trauma, loss of public housing and benefits, deportation, and criminal records. The coalition also asks prosecutors to support SD500 and HD1794, proposed state legislation to end mandatory minimum drug sentencing.

“It is a cliché in Massachusetts that we can’t arrest or prosecute our way out of the crisis of drug addiction,” the coalition letter reads. “Nonetheless, your offices not only continue to prosecute new drug offenses but have wasted precious public resources ‘protecting’ tainted convictions. The majority of the tainted Hinton Lab convictions were for simple possession, and over 90% were prosecuted in District Court. Our communities would have been better served had your offices pursued dismissal, diversion, and alternative sentences in the first place.”

“The corruption exposed at the Amherst and Hinton labs is not the sole responsibility of the two women chemists who were incarcerated for their roles, despite what elected officials want us to believe,” said Andrea James, our founder and director. “This is a result of a corrupted system in which prosecutors prioritize convictions over the well being of our people.”

“District Attorneys repeatedly state the goal of prosecuting people for drugs is to keep communities healthy and safe, but we know it isn’t working” said Kaitlin Nichols, a registered nurse and member of No Drug Arrests Collective. “If we truly want to take care of each other and save lives we need to divest from prisons, prosecutions, and police, and invest in what we know actually works—healing, housing, and treatment.”

Read the full letter here.

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