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Mass. Bishops urge criminal justice reform

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BRAINTREE -- On the eve of the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session, Massachusetts Catholic bishops sent a letter to state leaders urging them to consider filing legislation that would reform the criminal justice system, particularly in ways that would offer more leniency and more in-prison and re-entry programs for non-violent offenders.

The letter, issued through the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC), the public policy arm of the Catholic Church in the state, was signed by Boston Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, Worcester Bishop Robert J. McManus, Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski and Fall River Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha.

"There are approximately twenty thousand people in our state's jails and prisons. Many of those people are repeat offenders who need our help!" the bishops wrote.

"Adopting comprehensive thoughtful reforms will reduce recidivism and incarcerations rates for offenders (particularly non-violent offenders) and provide the path for many of them to be productive members of our society," they continued.

The letter was sent Dec. 6 to Gov. Charlie D. Baker, Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo, and Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

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