One of the highest profile prosecutors in Massachusetts has delivered a sharp rebuke to a plan by the state's chief justice to abolish mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants at a legal summit Monday told dozens of lawyers and judges there is a need to reform laws that have led to overly long sentences that are disproportionate with the crime, and crowded prisons with small-time drug offenders.

The Boston Globe ( ) reports that Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley strayed from his expected topic and instead shot back at Gants, calling his proposals "a return to the failed policies of the 1980s." Conley says minimum mandatory sentences have helped reduce drug crime.

The two men shook hands at the conclusion of the summit.