UTEC Hosts Criminal Justice Reform Panel in Boston

Expert panelists, young adults from UTEC, and fellow changemakers gathered at the Prudential Center for a conversation about criminal justice reform in Massachusetts.

On June 17, UTEC hosted an expert panel discussion on criminal justice reform at Ropes & Gray on the 49th floor of the Prudential Center in Boston.

The evening began with a networking hour complete with incredible views of the city. It was wonderful to connect with so many UTEC supporters and to meet new friends!

The program opened with a conversation with UTEC CEO Gregg Croteau and four young adults in UTEC programming: Fredo, Mary, Joseph, and Aidan (from left to right in the photo above). The group reflected on what brought them to UTEC, what their hopes are for the future, and how criminal justice reform impact their peers.

Next, our expert panel participated in an insightful discussion on policy improvements and the importance of community partnerships. The panel included:

Moderator: Lon Povich

Panelists: Paula M. Carey, Chief Justice of the Trial Court (ret.); Marian Ryan, Middlesex District Attorney; Mike Coelho, Deputy Probation Commissioner; Duci Goncalves, CPCS Deputy Chief Counsel; Viensamay (Paul) Chaleunphong, Re-Entry Manager at UTEC

The conversation centered on the strides made in criminal justice reform over the past 5 years and the work that remains. Part of that work includes reassessing how young adults are treated in the criminal justice system. By raising the age of juvenile convictions, more young people will have access to educational opportunities and programming in the Department of Youth Services instead of being put in a correctional facility where they must focus on survival, not rehabilitation.

“Why not raise the age?” asked panelist Viensamay (Paul) Chaleunphong. “That’s a great start to change the way we view young people. Life comes with obstacles but we can prepare them and give them what they need to tackle life’s challenges.”

Paula Carey agreed that reform can help change the way young adults are viewed. She said, “the attitude of our entire system are changing as a result of initiatives coming from legislation to deflect individuals from the court system.”

Duci Goncalves reflected on the value of partnerships with community organizations like UTEC when it comes to supporting young adults in the criminal justice system. She said, “we can be great advocates in the courtroom, but if they’re not receiving support from partners like UTEC, they’ll end up back in there.”

Mike Coelho agreed that collaboration is essential, stating that “working with community partners like UTEC makes the Mass Probation Service more responsive to the needs of our probationers and increases the chances for long lasting change.”

Our panelists agreed that housing remains a huge issue in our communities, especially for returning citizens working hard to build a better future.

In closing, Marian Ryan commented that, “criminal justice reform is important in ensuring that someone’s worst act doesn’t become the defining moment in their life.”

A special thank you to UTEC board member Tim Nichols from Ropes & Gray for hosting!

Thank you to our event sponsors!

Bernadine Tsung-Megason @ Compass Real Estate
The Boston Foundation
M. Scott Mellen
Mass General Brigham Health Plan

We want to hear from you!

If you have any feedback on the event, or have a topic you’d like to discuss with us, please reach out to Gregg Croteau at [email protected] or Melanie Bello at [email protected].

Please consider making a donation to support UTEC programming, including our organizing and advocacy work.