As a city councilor, Michael introduced legislation to ban all armor-piercing ammunition, and then advocated strongly for officials to expand on a citywide basis the successful Chinatown Crime Watch program, embracing a community approach to public safety. Responding to an alarming spate of violent incidents in city nightclubs, Michael filed a successful home rule petition that now requires bar owners to conduct background checks on bouncers. He has also called for an expansion of the city's successful ShotSpotter technology, which integrates with the Boston Police Department’s Real Time Crime Center.
A former Suffolk County prosecutor, Michael recognizes we can’t hope to simply arrest our way out of the city’s scourge of drug crime. He continues to call for more and better drug treatment options for those caught in the cycle of dependence and despair which fuels most of Boston’s street violence. Michael points to a recent report released by MassInc and Community Resources for Justice which casts serious doubt on the wisdom of diverting scarce state resources to long incarcerations for non-violent offenders and away from programs and treatment resources that offer rehabilitation and address the causes of lawbreaking.
"While I have supported minimum sentencing standards for gun possession and violent offenders," Michael notes, "I believe we must seriously re-examine many of our minimum mandatory sentences." He points out that, adjusted for inflation, state spending on incarceration across the nation has more than tripled in the past thirty years. The New York Times recently pointed out that 1.3 million Americans are now incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, with half a million in jail for drug offenses. Even such prominent conservatives as Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich are advocates of more selective incarceration, warning that current policies “have the unintended consequence of hardening nonviolent, low-risk offenders."
Michael was also an early and ardent supporter of CORI reform, effectively arguing to change the state's Criminal Offender Record Information system, which served to prevent criminal offenders who paid their dues to society from getting honest jobs and making new lives for themselves.