Special to the Vanguard
A bipartisan group of 66 elected prosecutors issued a joint statement in support of Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ nomination to be the next United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
The group emphasized Rollins’ strong record of implementing criminal justice reforms that have fortified community trust and enhanced public safety. The statement—which was sent to Senate leadership, the Senate Judiciary Committee and committee members—comes after the committee deadlocked in its vote to advance Rollins’ nomination to the Senate floor, the first time in 28 years that it has not approved a nominee for U.S. Attorney.
“During her time as Suffolk County District Attorney, Rachael Rollins has emerged as a groundbreaking leader and effective prosecutor. She has worked tirelessly to counter racial discrimination, end the criminalization of poverty and promote fairness in Boston’s justice system. The misguided opposition to her confirmation is nothing but fear-mongering by some still wedded to failed ‘tough-on-crime’ policies of the past,” said Miriam Krinsky, Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution, the organizer of the joint statement.
“DA Rollins’ bold, innovative policies have served as models for prosecutors nationwide, and I know that if confirmed, her fierce dedication, compassion and commitment to justice will benefit communities in her state, as well as around the country. ”
Rollins was nominated by President Biden in July of 2021 to serve as United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s September 30th vote ended in a tie, 11-11, after several members pushed distortions and falsehoods concerning Rollins’ work as District Attorney.
As the joint statement notes, these senators tried to blame Rollins for the increase in some types of violent crime nationwide, conveniently ignoring the data showing that Boston has seen a decrease in major crimes in 2021 to date. The tie vote means that, to confirm Rollins, a majority of the Senate will now have to vote to bring the nomination up for consideration.
“As a fellow elected prosecutor, I have looked to Rachael Rollins’ innovative policies as a model for my own office,” said Nueces County, Texas, District Attorney Mark Gonzalez. “Our federal leaders should see DA Rollins as an example of what prosecution can and should be about—data-driven, evidence-based policies that promote public safety, end unnecessary reliance on incarceration and save taxpayers money. We need her leadership and vision now, and I hope her nomination will receive a swift confirmation by the full Senate.”
In 2018, Rollins drew national attention for her groundbreaking policy of presumptively declining to prosecute certain low-level offenses often linked to poverty and desperation, which helped keep thousands of people who pose no public safety threat out of the justice system and freed up prosecutorial resources to focus on more serious cases.
The signatories highlight a recent report from independent researchers that looked at 67,000 cases prosecuted in Suffolk County over 17 years and found that people who were not charged due to this policy were dramatically less likely to be re-arrested going forward, noting, “The data shows us in no uncertain terms that DA Rollins’ policies have made Boston safer.”
The prosecutorial leaders who joined the statement are not the only law enforcement officials to back Rollins’ nomination. She has received widespread support from local law enforcement leaders who know her best, including the Suffolk County sheriff, the current and most recently retired Boston police commissioners, the Massachusetts State Police colonel and every police chief in Suffolk County.