The title says it all. In an impassioned keynote speech at the second annual MassINC Criminal Justice Reform Coalition Summit, Chief Justice Gants asserted, “doing so makes fiscal sense, justice sense, policy sense and common sense, and ultimately, good sense will prevail”, to loud applause from the audience. Not everyone, however was in agreement with Chief Justice Gants. Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley argued in favor of mandatory minimums, rebuking the notion that drug offenses are non-violent crimes, and asserting that the vast majority of inmates in Massachusetts are incarcerated for violent crimes, leading to an increased public perception of safety.
Though he spoke before District Attorney Conley, Chief Justice Gants anticipated an opposition, saying “When some district attorneys say they fear judicial leniency, they really are saying that they do not want to relinquish to judges the power to impose sentences that minimum mandatory sentences give to prosecutors,”. After the event, Bristol County District Attorney Tom Quinn affirmed, saying “‘I don’t feel comfortable, being in the criminal justice system a number of years, ceding that power back to the judiciary,’ Mandatory minimum sentences, he added, help establish consistent sentencing.”