Justice comes to those who wait....and wait...and wait.
The idea of criminal justice reform has been held out for years by Beacon Hill legislators as a worthy and necessary goal. But putting the pieces together has been a difficult puzzle to assemble.
The Senate pressed the last piece into one of the four jigsaw corners in the wee morning hours Friday after more than 14 hours of debate that tested the constitutions of Democrats and Republicans who might have preferred not to have to have those conversations.
They debated whether mandatory minimums for cocaine trafficking should be repealed, whether young teenagers having sex with each other should be criminal and whether parents and children should be able to testify against one another.
Some of the 162 amendments were decided by one or two votes with Democrats crossing party lines and causing mid-session huddles among like-minded colleagues unaccustomed to the process of whipping votes and wondering whether they could safely predict the outcome.
Sens. Michael Brady, Michael Rush, Kathleen O'Connor Ives and Patrick O'Connor took a pass on the statutory rape reform altogether, voting present rather than weighing in on whether Masachusetts should have a "Romeo-and Juliet" exception for minors close in age.
In broad strokes, the bill that cleared the Senate 27-10 was designed to try to lower recidivism rates and the number of inmates incarcerated in state prisons. It eliminates parole fees, raises the youngest age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 7 to 12 years old and allows for reduced sentences for certain drug crimes.
It's now the House's turn and anyone's guess how the more conservative body will respond. But Sen. William Brownsberger is keeping the faith: "That's all I'm hearing from the House is seriousness on this issue."
House Speaker Robert DeLeo had a different justice matter on his plate Friday, the day after the Senate debate as he gathered his leadership team to discuss a column in the Boston Globe written by Yvonne Abraham alleging a widespread culture of sexual harassment under the Golden Dome.