Policy Action: STATE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
193rd Legislative Session: 2023-2024
JDI’s approach to our systems change is work is intentionally intersectional as we engage in many areas of policy that affect the lives, choices, and safety of survivors and address the root causes of violence. In upholding our commitment to racial equity and the dignity and human rights of all people, we assess the impact of public policy on communities of color who are disproportionately represented in and harmed by the criminal legal system and challenge policies that contribute to mass incarceration. To this end, we do not support increasing penalties for offenses that are already criminalized in Massachusetts.
The following is a list of ten pieces of legislation that JDI has prioritized in the current legislative session sorted into five broad areas for advocacy and change: Access to Safety and Justice, Housing and Economic Security, Racial Equity, Sexual and Domestic Violence Education/Prevention, and Human Dignity.
This symbol(*) indicates legislation JDI filed in partnership with community stakeholders and the lead sponsors.
Access to Justice and Safety for Survivors
This bill will recognize less visible—but no less harmful—forms of abuse by adding coercive control and technological abuse as a basis for 209A protection/restraining order. Numerous states have enacted legislation to address this harm and survivors in the Commonwealth have shared with us that this is a key priority.
Lead Sponsors: Reps. Natalie Higgins and Tram Nguyen & Sen. Michael Moore
The misuse of the court system by people who cause harm to further tactics of abusive power and control is referred to as abusive litigation. These tactics can force survivors to appear repeatedly in court at their emotional and financial expense. This bill provides courts with a tool to curb abusive litigation and mitigate its harms.
Lead Sponsors: Rep. Natalie Blais & Sen. Michael Moore
It has been over 10 years since 258E (MA’s sexual assault protection order) was enacted. This bill closes gaps in protections for survivors seeking relief under the 258E statute and expands access to these orders by including trafficking as a basis for relief and ensuring that judges can remove firearms from respondents in 258E cases.
Lead Sponsors: Rep. Tram Nguyen and Rep. Higgins & Sen. Robyn Kennedy
Currently Massachusetts is one of two states without protections for image-based sexual assault or the non-consensual sharing of sexually explicit images. This bill will allow survivors to seek criminal and civil protection from this harm and provides education and diversion programs to prevent image-based sexual assault.
Lead Sponsors: Rep. Jeffrey Roy & Sen. John Keenan
Housing and Economic Justice
Too often, survivors are criminalized for actions they engage in to survive (i.e. substance use/trade; sex work; economic crimes, etc.) Criminal histories make access to jobs and housing far more difficult for survivors. This bill expands options to expunge and/or seal criminal records without a waiting period for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking and enhances survivor access to safety and economic stability.
Lead Sponsors: Reps. Tram Nguyen and Christine Barber & Senators Adam Gomez and Liz Miranda
Learn more: https://www.passthehomesact.org/
The HOMES Act would protect many tenants from being unfairly marked with an eviction record by providing a process for tenants to petition the court to seal the record. There is NO process now for tenants to protect themselves. Other states have adopted eviction sealing protections including Utah, Nevada, Texas, Virginia, and Minnesota. Massachusetts should do the same.
Lead Sponsors: Sen. Lydia Edwards and Rep. Mike Moran
Massachusetts continues to increase spending on incarceration even though the number of people in prisons and jails has decreased. This bill will pause the construction of any new prisons or jails in Massachusetts for 5 years, giving the Commonwealth an opportunity to shift spending priorities to invest in communities. Our local communities hold the knowledge to create sustainable solutions that address the root causes of incarceration.
Lead Sponsors: Rep. Chynah Tyler & Sen. Joanne Comerford
Survivors need access to accurate, trauma-informed translation services when they seek support from social services and state agencies. This bill shines a light on the gaps that currently exist in language access in state institutions and requires state agencies to meet language access needs.
Lead Sponsors: Reps. Adrian Madaro and Carlos González & Sen. Sal DiDomenico
Sexual and Domestic Violence Education and Prevention
Educating youth on how to identify and have healthy, respectful relationships free of abusive behavior is critical to preventing and ending sexual and domestic violence. This bill ensures that sexuality education, when taught, is age appropriate, and medically accurate.
Lead Sponsors: Sen. Sal DiDomenico & Reps. James O’Day and Vanna Howard
Immigrant survivors and their families fear accessing services and systems that increase safety and support because of the threat of deportation. This bill rebuilds community trust by making it clear that immigration enforcement has no place in state and local law enforcement making it safer for survivors to come forward to seek support and services.
Lead Sponsors: Senators James B. Eldridge and Liz Miranda & Reps. Ruth Balser and Manny Cruz
When survivors are unable to access or maintain stable employment, their safety is compromised. Survivors shouldn’t have to choose between accessing the services and healing they want and keeping their jobs. This is why we are highlighting these two pieces of...
Improving Protections for Sexual Assault Survivors! #SAAM2021 Did you that the current sexual assault protection law in Massachusetts has loopholes that can prevent survivors from accessing the safety they need? Victims of domestic violence can obtain a restraining...
Do you know if the K-12 schools in your area have school resource officers (SRO)? SROs are law enforcement officers assigned to work at schools. Massachusetts began mandating all school districts assign at least one SRO per...
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