Some progress

The current state of affairs leads some to worry that this eight-year window for progress, with a reform-minded Patrick in the corner office, will end with very little change.

There has been some progress. CORI reform was significant. The sentencing reforms the Senate has attached to the current crime bill, if included in the final version, would do some good. The probation and parole departments are being cleaned up, and may yet be consolidated and made to work better with other parts of the system. The Department of Correction and sheriff's offices are reforming to the extent they can on their own.

In addition, a Criminal Justice Commission, created without fanfare in last year's state budget, has proven to be an effective forum for cooperation and planning, according to Cabral and others.

But that is all minor tinkering, which does little to alter the massive expense and threat to public safety that the current system represents. Real change will require the state legislature to take up the cause— which they show very little interest in doing.

To read the Talking Politics blog, go to David S. Bernstein can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @dbernstein.

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Related: Missing in action, Tea Party Progressives?, Letters to the Boston editors, February 17, 2012, More more >
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