• Partner with community groups, schools and local governments to support crime prevention programs, including programs for at-risk youth.

  • Offer pre-trial inmates substance use disorder, alcohol use disorder and mental health treatment programs, through outside providers, that incentivize successful participation through the possibility of earning a bail review hearing to petition for pre-trial release.

  • Advocate for bail reform to remove gender and racial disparities in how bail is set and so that pre-trial incarceration depends on dangerousness rather than ability to pay  and must consider public health issues

  • ​Support jail diversion programs that send those with substance abuse disorders and in mental health crisis into treatment instead of custody.







1.From 1979-2018 spending on prisons and jails increased at three times the rate of funding for pre-K-12 public education, U.S. Department of Education, Policy and Program Studies Service, State and Local Expenditures on Corrections and Education (July 2016), at; from 2012-2013, a $2 million violence eduction program in Boston and Springfield, MA, generated close to $15 million in savings from decreases in crime. Giffords Law Center, Investing in Intervention (December 18, 2017) at

2.Among people incarcerated in the US, 2/3 have substance use disorder including about 25% with opioid use disorder; in Massachusetts, the opioid overdose death rate is 120 times higher for those recently released from incarceration compared to the rest of the adult population. Massachusetts Department of Public Health, An Assessment of Fatal and Nonfatal Opioid Overdoses in Massachusetts (2011 – 2015) (August 16, 2017) at; substance use disorder treatment

can reduce drug use and recidivism after release, particularly when there is continuity of care after release. Dominique de Andrade, Jessica Ritchie, Michael Rowlands, Emily Mann, Leanne Hides, Substance Use and Recidivism Outcomes for Prison-Based Drug and Alcohol Interventions, Epidemiological Reviews, Volume 40, Issue 1, 2018 at

3.The 2018 Criminal Justice Reform Act retained cash bail despite findings that bail amounts are higher for non-white defendants compared to their white counterparts. Final Report of the Special Commission to Evaluate Policies and Procedures Related to the Current Bail System (December 31, 2019) at


4.The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that during the COVID-19 emergency, because the risks associated with holding non-violent pre-trial inmates in jail are significant they can seek reconsideration of the bail decision that resulted in their pretrial detention. Committee for Public Counsel Services & Another v. Chief Justice of the Trial Court & Others, 484 Mass. 431 (2020) available at Responding to a request for the Massachusetts high court to commute sentences, issue furloughs, and allow early parole during the COVID-19 crisis, the court held that those powers can be exercised exclusively by the Governor. The court stated: “We urge the executive branch to contemplate how it best might exercise those constitutional powers to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth's prison system.” Committee for Public Counsel Services. Chief Justice of the Trial Court, No. 12926 (Mass, April 30, 2020) available at


5. National research shows that 31% of those in jail suffer from serious mental illness; The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health invested $2 million in jail diversion programs in FY2018; DMH estimated that the program saved over $2 million during the first four months of FY2018. Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, Jail/Arrest Diversion Grant Program, FY 2018 Mid-Year Report, December 2017 at

Bill Phelan


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