Decades from now, scholars might view 2015 as a landmark on the road to meaningful criminal justice reform at the federal, state, and local levels in the United States.

President Barack Obama’s decision to commute the sentences of 95 nonviolent federal inmates last week—more than twice the total number he had previously granted during his tenure—was one of several bold steps this year in the administration’s march to revamp the federal system. The president even proclaimed his intention to focus his efforts next year, his last in the Oval Office, in pushing Congress to pass bipartisan criminal justice reform that might drastically modify sentencing policies and reduce the inmate population over time.

Many states made criminal justice reform a top priority in 2015 as well. Take capital punishment. Just this year, a governor declared a moratorium on the death penalty (Pennsylvania); a state Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional (Connecticut); and another state legislature repealed it (Nebraska). Then there’s solitary confinement. Last week New York state reached a historic agreement to institute a far more humane policy that vastly decreases the types of infractions that can trigger solitary confinement and caps the duration of any period of isolation. As for sentencing, several states made valiant efforts this year in seeking to roll back “mandatory minimum” sentencing, a misguided sentencing regime that forces judges to occasionally impose stern punishments on nonviolent offenders.

For their part, cities and counties have taken the lead in responding to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has drawn much-needed attention to the problem of civilian-police encounters. This attention has motivated local law enforcement authorities to rethink long-held beliefs about policing. Funded to some extent by federal grants, a slew of major cities have embraced body cameras.

So where does Massachusetts stand regarding all of this?

The Commonwealth lacks capital punishment for state crimes, but it does have surprisingly draconian solitary punishment practices in its prisons, not to mention harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Encounters between police and civilians in the Bay State have not always gone smoothly this year, as evidenced by an August incident in Roslindale in which a Boston officer wrapped his hands around a teenager’s neck while arresting him for disorderly conduct based principally on the act of cursing at the police.

To be fair, reform initiatives are underway in Massachusetts. The legislature is considering a bill that would restrict some of the Department of Corrections' most appalling solitary confinement practices, including lengthy stints in isolation for relatively minor transgressions. Sentencing reform has also made news in the Commonwealth this year. Attorney General Maura Healy and Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court criticized mandatory minimums; some legislative leaders have taken the baton and are running with it on Beacon Hill. Last month the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission held its first public hearing on the topic. And in September, the Boston Police Department agreed to launch a body camera pilot program.

But these reform attempts have not gone unopposed. The legislature has a history of considering restrictions on solitary confinement, but not following through in the end. In terms of sentencing, leading figures in the district attorney community—the county prosecutors who wield virtually all the power in charging crimes and offering plea bargains in the state—have lined up against removing mandatory minimums. Despite the BPD’s choice to try out body cameras, it was a bumpy path to that decision; statewide, police departments have displayed far more reluctance to use body cameras than elsewhere in the country.

Massachusetts has an illustrious record of progressive law reform. Same-sex marriage and health care are two examples. But its record is more mixed when it comes to criminal justice. The time is ripe for the Commonwealth to break with its past—to build lasting, enlightened changes for our criminal justice system.

Daniel S. Medwed is a professor of law at Northeastern University and a legal analyst for WGBH News