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JRI Year: 2018



In Massachusetts, two-thirds of people leaving Houses of Correction and more than half of those leaving Department of Correction facilities in 2011 were rearraigned within three years of their release. To address the challenge of recidivism, Massachusetts leaders began using JRI during the summer of 2015, with technical assistance from the CSG Justice Center. A bipartisan, interbranch steering committee and working group were established to support this work.


In the spring of 2018, the legislature passed two major pieces of criminal justice legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support: House Bill (HB) 4012, which stemmed directly from the JRI effort, and Senate Bill (SB) 2371, a criminal justice omnibus bill that was informed by the effort. Both pieces of legislation were signed into law on April 13, 2018. HB 4012 expanded earned-time credits for people who complete recidivism-reduction programming and treatment in prison and gave judges more pretrial alternatives to incarceration. SB 2371 enacted sweeping criminal justice reforms, including adjusting mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, improving data collection, and encouraging judges and district attorneys to use diversion programs in lieu of jail for people with behavioral health needs. To that end, Massachusetts worked across agencies to make changes to policy and practice.1


Following its JRI efforts, Massachusetts launched a pilot program to provide specialized treatment services to people on community supervision who have serious mental illnesses, substance use disorders, or both and who are at high risk of reoffending. Further, the state developed a grant program that funded 184 transitional housing beds and community-based services for people returning from prison. Both violent and property crime rates were decreasing before JRI and continued falling after reform with a significant decrease in recidivism rates for people released from prison between 2007 and 2015.2 Further, Massachusetts provided multiyear funding packages to address the unique needs of transitional-age youth, who often have high recidivism rates. 

For more information, see Justice Reinvestment in Massachusetts.

JRI-Driven Policies and Practices

  • Reclassify/redefine drug offenses
  • Improve/revise pretrial release systems
  • Expand good-time/earned-time prison credits/reentry leave
  • Establish/expand earned discharge (probation/parole)
  • Authorize/develop/modify graduated responses or matrices for violations
  • Require/improve risk-needs assessment
  • Require evidence-based practices
  • Reform/establish specialty courts or diversion programs
  • Improve behavioral health interventions
  • Require data collection/performance measures

Other JRI-Funded Projects

In Massachusetts, individual agencies, in partnership with the CSG Justice Center, participated in the Justice Counts initiative as part of a larger criminal justice effort.

In Massachusetts, the CSG Justice Center, Correctional Leaders Association, and American Probation and Parole Association are partnering in technical assistance efforts to support the adoption and implementation of the National Guidelines for Post-Conviction Risk and Needs Assessment.

1 The Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2023, Justice Reinvestment in Massachusetts, New York, NY: The Council of State Governments Justice Center, retrieved May 17, 2023 from

2 The Urban Institute, 2020, Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) Massachusetts, Washington DC: The Urban Institute, retrieved May 17, 2023 from

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