After two days of closed-door negotiating and passionate debate, the Massachusetts House finally agreed on what it thinks the future of the state’s criminal justice system should look like. In a vote of 144 to nine, the House passed a bill Tuesday that reduced mandatory minimums for many drug crimes, limited the use of solitary confinement, and created programs aimed at reducing the rates of recidivism.

Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and Jamaica Plain Representative Jeffrey Sanchez says the chamber made a significant move toward improving a system that he says is heavily weighted against communities of color. The House and Senate must now convene a committee to rectifysome key differences before placing a final bill on Governor Baker’s desk next year.

Read the transcript below.

Joe Mathieu: The Massachusetts House of Representatives has passed a sweeping overhaul of the state's criminal justice system. As we've reported, the bill repeals mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes and increases resources to prevent repeat offenders. Joining us right now is Jeffrey Sanchez, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and a representative of Jamaica Plain who played a big role in crafting this bill. Representative Sanchez, welcome to WGBH’s Morning Edition. 

Jeffrey Sanchez: Thank you so much for having me.

Mathieu: I'm assuming that you're happy with the final product here, having worked on it and debated for so long. What were your goals and what did you achieve?

Sanchez: First and foremost, the work that Speaker [Robert] DeLeo and Chairwoman [of the Judiciary Committee Claire] Cronin and all the members of the house [did]. All the listening that folks did throughout these past couple of years, and the work that folks did relative to that council of state governments report — that essentially set the stage for us to have wholesale criminal justice reform. It's a monumental effort, and it included hundreds, if not thousands, of people engaged in the discussion, and we're really proud of what we were able to accomplish.

Imagine, we're going from a system that's focused on broad-based policies to one that's focused on the individual. The Council of State Government bill that we passed also has resources attached to it. That's going to allow for the system to take into consideration the challenges that people have — be it substance abuse, be it mental health conditions, be it their social environment — to try and figure out how we get at the root cause of recidivism. And then, getting at part two of criminal justice reform, are the bills that we debated the past couple of days. We get wholesale reform from when someone gets arrested, all the way throughout the entire system, and [the] experience of any individual that gets caught up in the system.

Mathieu: We have the concept of expungement, something that was debated quite a bit. Who does this help?

Sanchez: Imagine this. With the language that we approved in the house, folks that have a juvenile record….there's a lot of folks that made a lot of silly mistakes, or even, you know, I remember going through stuff myself there in the 80s, where you’re walking down the street, and the police would grab you and throw you against the wall, and go through your pockets. There are a lot of kids that I grew up with that unfortunately got a criminal record because they had a dime bag of grass in their pocket.

Those records are going to be able to be expunged, because now marijuana is a legal substance. And even for those folks who, through [the age of] 18, may have had a grass conviction or they might have stolen a bike, those records are going to be able to be sealed and expunged. And then, between the ages of 18 and 21, if someone makes a mistake during that time, and it doesn't fall within the heinous crimes, they might be able to expunge that as well. So, this bill really goes into areas where folks, frankly, never thought we would.

Mathieu: Now that we've said all that, knowing you have to reconcile this bill with the Senate version, will the final product do as much for minorities in Boston and the state as the House version?

Sanchez: Absolutely. Make no mistake about it.

We know that the criminal justice system has a disproportionate percentage of people of color that are incarcerated — 52 percent of the [prison] population, while 20 percent of the state's population are people of color. This bill is going to send shock waves throughout the entire system.

Mathieu: He's talking to us from our Beacon Hill State House studio. Representative Sanchez, when you back off from this whole debate, having gone through this now, as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, what does it mean in terms of change for the legislature?

Sanchez: I'm no different than any other Rep in this building. I mean, I've been here for 15 years. I'm a product of my own community. My community is a diverse community, like any other in the Commonwealth, and we all share things that we agree on and things that we have our own challenges with, as you saw in the past couple of days.

This transcript has been edited for clarity. Click the audio player above to hear Sanchez's full interview with Morning Edition.