Whereas, the cost of imprisoning offenders in the prisons, jails, and houses of correction of the commonwealth has reached approximately one billion dollars per year; and
Whereas, no more than ** percent of that cost is at present devoted to education, vocational, and therapeutic programming for offenders; and
Whereas, the cost of imprisoning an offender in a high security correctional facility has reached well over fifty thousand dollars per year; and
Whereas, the cost of imprisoning an offender in a low security or pre-release facility is approximately sixty percent of the cost of high security confinement; and
Whereas, it has been known since at least 1987 that a disproportionate number of incarcerated offenders in this commonwealth are confined in high security facilities; and
Whereas, between 1994 and 2004, the percentage of offenders in minimum security facilities declined from twenty three percent to eleven percent and the percentage of offenders in maximum security facilities increased from nine percent to nineteen percent; and
Whereas, twelve percent of Massachusetts offenders are currently being released to our communities from maximum security facilities, which is more than twice the percentage of such releases in other states; and
Whereas, it is more practicable and less expensive to conduct education, vocational, and therapeutic programming for offenders in lower security correctional facilities; and
Whereas, the administrative method for determining the security and rehabilitative programming requirements of each prisoner in the custody of Commonwealth is known as “classification;”
It is hereby resolved, That in order to contain correctional costs and promote the rehabilitation of offenders in a manner that balances the need to prepare offenders to live within the law with the security requirements of public safety; the General Court hereby establishes the following requirements for all classification regulations and procedures promulgated by the commissioner of correction.
Chapter 127 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2000 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section *** the following section:—
Section *** . The commission of correction shall promulgate regulations and procedures for the classification of all persons committed to his custody and to the custody of the several sheriffs.
Section *** A. The classification regulations and procedures employed by the commissioner of correction shall create an objective, validated, point-based classification system.
Section *** B. The classification regulations and procedures employed by the commissioner shall require that no more than fifteen percent of offenders be classified to maximum security correctional facilities at any time, and that no less than thirty percent of offenders be classified to minimum security, including pre-release or work-release correctional facilities, at all times.
Section *** C. The classification regulations and procedures employed by the commissioner shall ensure that no less than eighty percent of offenders progress to minimum security or pre-release correctional facilities by the time they have completed eighty percent of the minimum term of their sentence or aggregated sentences.
Section 3. The requirements of this section shall apply and control the movement of all incarcerated sentenced offenders through the correctional facilities of the commonwealth notwithstanding the provisions of any other previously enacted legislation.
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