Action Alert: Call Your Legislators on the Jobs Not Jails Bill
February 11, 2016
As you may have heard, ECCO has been working with the Jobs Not Jails Coalition to pass legislation to tackle mass incarceration here in MA. One of the most important actions we can take to prevent ex-prisoners from returning to crime is ensure that they have access to good jobs and better life opportunities when they get out of prison. As people of faith, we believe that people deserve second chances, and must work to make those chances possible. As Psalm 146 says, our God is one “Who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.”
The Good News
In recent weeks, ECCO and our partners helped pass a key part of the Jobs Not Jails bill – the RMV Sanctions Bill. The current law requires that ex-offenders pay the RMV $500 to have their drivers’ licenses reinstated, and that they wait up to five years for that privilege. This is a significant barrier to ex-prisoners’ ability to return to work and support their families, and the bill will help give ex-prisoners the second chance they need to start over.
While the State Senate passed the version of the bill ECCO hoped for, the House passed a version that excludes ex-offenders charged with “drug trafficking,” carrying 18 grams of drugs or more. Unfortunately, this category includes many non-violent offenders who play minor roles in drug crimes, and are disproportionately people of color. While they constitute 31% of all convicted defendants, people of color represent way over 75% of those convicted of “trafficking” offenses. Click here for more info.
Action: Call Your Legislators
If we are serious about reducing crime and supporting people to start their lives again, we must ensure that all people convicted of drug offenses are able to regain their driver’s license so they can get jobs, drive to work and support their families. In order to support this effort, we ask you to take five minutes to call your state legislators and urge them to pass a version of the bill through conference committee that includes those convicted of drug trafficking. And, please ask your friends and neighbors to do the same!
Click here for a script, fact sheet, and information on how to find the contact info for your state legislators. And, if you are able to make a call, please respond to this email let us know!
Thank you for your support,
Rev. Andre Bennett, Ed.D
Zion Baptist Church, Lynn, MA