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Democratic Party Platform

The Platform of the Massachusetts Democratic Party


We believe the people of the Commonwealth have a right to safety in their homes, on the streets, and in our schools and workplaces. We endorse a strategy that focuses on reducing the number and severity of criminal offenses while creating and strengthening crime-resistant communities. We support arrest, conviction, and punishment for the perpetrators of crime, and stand fast for the victims of crime so that they do not, in turn, become victims of the system. In order to correct the unconscionable delays that have compromised many criminal investigations in the Commonwealth, we strongly support enhanced funding of the State Crime Laboratory and the Office of the Medical Examiner. We favor legislation to extend the statute of limitations for a criminal or civil action relating to rape to one year from the date on which the identity of a suspect is established by DNA testing. We strongly oppose the use of discriminatory racial profiling practices in law enforcement.

Crime Prevention.

We believe the best possible anti-crime strategy is early intervention and prevention. We seek to build on the proven success that preventionbased approaches such as community policing and outreach to troubled young people have had in dramatically reducing crime, including violent crime and homicide, in the Commonwealth and across the country. We support increased efforts to work with troubled young people and we support the development of secure substance abuse treatment facilities for adolescents and women. We call for increased efforts to provide parental training to young parents. We support heightened efforts to provide teens with summer jobs, expanded employment opportunities, and safe community centers.

Guns and Assault Weapons.

We believe that strong state and federal gun laws help keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and children, and reduce violence in communities, homes, workplaces, and schools. We strongly oppose efforts to repeal or roll back vital protections like the Brady Bill, and the Assault Weapons Ban, and background checks for gun buyers. We support measures to close existing loopholes in the state ban on the sale of assault weapons, requiring safety devices on guns, and the establishment of a ballistic fingerprinting data bank. We endorse increased efforts to track and prosecute illegal gun distributors.

The Death Penalty.

We restate our Party’s continued opposition to the death penalty, and its support for the alternative, life in prison, without parole.


We support sentences that are tough and fair, consistent and proportionate. We support sentencing guidelines as one way of ensuring fairness and uniformity, as well as providing the most efficient use of state resources in the fight against crime. We believe in consistent, long-term sentences for serious and violent criminals, and the option of alternative sanctions for nonviolent criminals. We favor expanded use of drug courts. We are deeply concerned by evidence of striking racial disparities in certain sentencing patterns among persons convicted of similar or identical offenses.

Family Violence.

We support measures to stop family violence, including putting full-time, trained advocates in court rooms to assist victims of domestic violence in obtaining protective orders, developing personal safety plans, and securing other available services. We support programs for children who witness violence, and measures to protect children from domestic violence in custody proceedings. We urge a greater focus on batterers who demonstrate a high probability of repeating or escalating their violence. We support expansion of programs that provide adequate shelters for victims of domestic violence.

Victims’ Rights.

We support the changes that have made our criminal justice system more attuned to the concerns of crime victims and their families, and urge continued work to increase this responsiveness. We support greater use of restitution and other means of restorative justice. We recognize the need for expanded counseling services for all those who may feel the impact of a crime, such as the family members of convicted batterers.

Probation Reform.

We call for probation to be integrated into a unified approach to law enforcement and corrections. We support policies that allow for swift and consistent punishment of probation violations and call for and community corrections programs We support increased use of tools such as substance abuse testing, electronic position monitoring, and day reporting requirements to tighten our control over the behavior of probationers.

Juvenile Justice.

We must continue to deal swiftly and firmly with violent juvenile offenders, holding violent juveniles accountable, while providing immediate intervention for lesser offenders. We support the community-based juvenile corrections system that has become a national model, providing a broad range of alternatives with respect to young people who have broken the law.


We support efforts to ensure adequate prison space to house convicted violent offenders. We view prison overcrowding as a threat to the safety and welfare of the public, correctional officers, and inmates. We believe that it is a responsibility of government to incarcerate persons convicted of serious crimes. We oppose housing Massachusetts inmates in out-of-state facilities, and we oppose the privatization of correctional facilities. We call for more appropriate and secure facilities for female prisoners


We support increased literacy education and similar skills training to better direct inmates into new lives as productive and contributing members of society following their release. We support drug and alcohol treatment, increased mentoring opportunities, post-release supervision, and AfterCare initiatives for inmates and persons on probation as a common sense approach to reducing repeat offenses and recidivism.

Legal Services.

We support publicly funded legal services to provide legal representation and advice on issues such as housing, employment, domestic violence, health, elder law, public benefits, and immigration. We urge full state and federal funding of such services. We support efforts to encourage members of the bar to provide pro bono legal services.

Hate Crimes.

We reaffirm our intolerance for verbal and physical assaults against any person on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, disability, gender, or sexual orientation. We support efforts to eliminate prejudice through education and advocate training for our law enforcement personnel to assist them in recognizing and responding more effectively to this type of crime. We support legislation to combat hate crimes, and the collection and dissemination of information about their prevalence by governmental agencies such as the U.S. Department of Justice.

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