April 17th 2018 BOSTON – State Representative David K. Muradian, Jr. (R-Grafton), is hailing the passage of a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill that strengthens the state’s opioid laws, makes it a felony to assault a police officer and creates a statewide database for tracking sexual assault evidence kits.
Representative Muradian voted to support the omnibus legislation, which was approved by the House and Senate on April 4 and represents a compromise between two earlier versions of the crime bill passed by both legislative branches last fall.
The bill provides for the reclassification of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug that was present in 83 percent of all opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts in 2017, as a Class A substance. It also adds carfentanil and U-47700 – also known as “pink death,” which is 4 to 8 times more potent than heroin – to this same category. State Representative David Muradian has been advocating for the new classifications to help address the state’s opioid epidemic.
The bill also creates a fentanyl trafficking penalty for 10 grams of fentanyl or any of its derivatives, punishable by a 3 ½ year mandatory minimum sentence with a maximum penalty of 20 years. The same penalties will also apply to trafficking in carfentanil, regardless of the amount involved. In addition, the bill provides for the automatic adoption of the federal scheduling for opioid drugs, unless the Legislature acts directly on a particular substance, so Massachusetts’ laws can remain current as law enforcement identifies new drugs that are being trafficked.
The criminal justice reform bill contains language making it a felony to commit assault and battery with bodily injury on a police officer while performing their official duties. The language creates a new mandatory minimum prison sentence of one year and a maximum of 10 years, while offenders will also face a potential fine of between $500 and $10,000.
The legislation also includes two initiatives brought forward by Representative Muradian:
- A proposal to expand witness intimidation protections to include victim witness advocates, correction officers, court reporters and court interpreters; and
- Additional language to establish a special commission that will develop recommendations for preventing suicides among the state’s corrections officers and providing mental health services to these individuals, with a report due by December 31, 2018.
“I am proud to have supported such an impressive piece of legislation that will better the safety of members in our community,” said Representative Muradian. “The Commonwealth was in need of strong criminal justice reform and I was happy to have contributed to this bill. I am confident that the two initiatives that I brought forth will not only improve the physical safety of our Correction Officers, but also their mental safety as well.”
The bill also takes steps to empower crime victims by directing the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) to establish a statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system, which will allow victims of sexual assault to anonymously track their kits. Sponsored by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading), the proposal also requires all existing untested kits associated with a reported crime to be submitted for testing.