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Policing and Criminal Justice Reform

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As an ardent advocate for policing and criminal justice reform, I believe it’s imperative to address both the moral and fiscal costs of our current system and the toll that decades of shortsighted policies have taken on our communities. I’ve been working with advocates and my colleagues in the legislature to enact systemic changes at every stage of the justice system, from biased policing to pretrial detention, and from sentencing and incarceration to reentry supports -- and to include prevention in the first place.


As a co-chair of the Senate’s Racial Justice Working Group, I was one of the architects of the police reform legislation signed into law in December of 2020. Designed to strengthen accountability and prioritize de-escalation in law enforcement, the law (among other reforms) places strong limits on use of force, creates a civilian-led POST Board (the 1st in the nation) to investigate incidents of misconduct and decertify officers who abuse their power, lifts the requirement that schools employ police officers, and bans racial profiling.


In 2010, I helped secure the passage of the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system reform to reduce recidivism rates, ensure taxpayer dollars are spent more wisely, and make access to criminal records fairer and more effective. In 2018, I was proud to help win sweeping criminal justice reform legislation, which, among other reforms, decriminalized a number of minor offenses and expanded opportunities for alternatives to incarceration, overhauled the bail system, reduced solitary confinement, improved the system of sealing and expunging records, reduced fines and fees imposed on defendants, and kept children under age 12 out of the juvenile justice system. I also pushed successfully to end automatic driver’s license suspensions and exorbitant fines in drug cases, allowing offenders who have served their time to get back to work and resume care for themselves and their families.


More recently, I’ve served as the lead sponsor of the Justice Reinvestment Act, which would calculate the savings from sentencing reforms and reinvest those funds into community education and workforce development programs. A version of this legislation was included as part of the Reform, Shift + Built package that passed the Senate in 2020.


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Activists and elected officials marched the three miles in support of a moratorium on construction of a new women’s prison in Norfolk.

By Anna Lamb | Sep 15, 2021

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"Across the Commonwealth, far too many people — and let’s be real: it’s disproportionately Black and brown people — are incarcerated in toxic conditions that place their health, safety, and human dignity, and the safety of the communities to which they will return, at risk," said Sonia Chang-Díaz.

By Mark Arsenault | Aug 16, 2021

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Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz is advancing legislation that would reinvest savings stemming from criminal justice reforms back into communities.

By Morgan C. Mullings | Jun 02, 2021

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The new law, among other changes, set up a commission to certify and decertify police officers, banned the use of chokeholds by police and limited the use of no-knock warrants.

By Sharman Sacchetti | May 25, 2021

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