Chapter 211E of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after said chapter the following new chapter: -
Chapter 211E ½.
Section 1. SHORT TITLE
This act may be cited as the “Justice Safety Valve Act.”
Section 2. Notwithstanding and general or special law to the contrary, when sentencing a person convicted of a criminal offense for which there is a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment, the court may depart from the applicable sentence if the court finds substantial and compelling reasons on the record, after giving due regard to the nature of the crime, history and character of the defendant and his or her chances of successful rehabilitation, that:
(a) The mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment is not necessary for the protection of the public and imposition of the mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment would result in substantial injustice to the defendant; or
(b) The mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment is not necessary for the protection of the public and the defendant, based on a risk, needs and responsivity assessment, is eligible for a sentence that is not a mandatory minimum, an alternative court, a diversion program or community sentencing, without regard to exclusions because of previous convictions, and has been accepted to the same, pending sentencing.
(a)As used in this section the following term shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meaning:-
“Non-violent offense”, any conviction for a crime punishable by imprisonment, except a crime punishable by imprisonment that: (i) has as an element the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force or a deadly weapon against the person of another; (ii) is burglary, extortion, arson or kidnapping; or (iii) involves the use of explosives;
(b) The court shall have the discretion to depart from the applicable mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for which the defendant was convicted of a “non violent offense”.
Section 4. This subsection does not limit any right to appeal that would otherwise exist in its absence.
Section 5. The Executive Office of the Massachusetts Trial Court shall submit a report to include age, gender, racial or ethnicity category, zip code, type of crime and departures in sentencing to the clerks of the Massachusetts House and Senate, Executive Office of Public Safety, District Attorneys for each county, Committee for Public Counsel Services, Massachusetts Sentencing Commission on or before the first day of March of each year.
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