- Associated Press - Friday, September 29, 2017

BOSTON (AP) - A legislative committee has released a sweeping criminal justice bill that would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses while increasing penalties for others.

The wide-ranging measure outlined Friday has the backing of top Senate Democrats, who say it will offer alternatives to incarceration for some while helping former convicts avoid returning to prison for new crimes.

The bill also calls for reforms to Massachusetts’ bail system; a reduction in court fees charged to low-income defendants; and changes in solitary confinement procedures in state prisons.

Democratic Judiciary Committee co-chair Sen. William Brownsberger says the bill is “about lifting people up instead of locking them up.”

The proposal would end mandatory minimum sentences for dealing small amounts of certain drugs, but would impose new penalties for trafficking in heroin and fentanyl.

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