Rep. Vargas Appointed House Chair of Parole Reform Commission
Haverhill Rep. Andy X. Vargas is co-chairing the new state Commission on Structural Racism in the Massachusetts Parole Process.
Vargas, appointed by House Speaker Ronald Mariano, opened last week’s first meeting by quoting from the Aspen Institute’s definition of “structural racism.”
“‘Structural racism is not something a few people or institutions choose to practice. Instead, it has been a feature of the social, economic and political system in which we all exist.’ In other words, we’re not picking on the parole process here. Every single institution across our criminal justice system, our economic system, our financing system, our housing system has some element of structural racism embedded in it,” he said.
Created as part of the landmark police reform law Gov. Charlie Baker signed Dec. 31, the 13-member commission is tasked with identifying any disparities affecting people of color in the parole process and suggesting ways to close those gaps. Vargas, who is joined by Senate Co-Chair Jamie Eldridge, said the panel aims to produce “concrete recommendations that will make Massachusetts better for all.”