Lawlessness has been rampant in the United States now for some time. Rachael Rollins, the current Massachusetts Suffolk County District Attorney, is Biden’s nomination for US Attorney in Massachusetts. But her track record as a prosecutor is iffy, which is why the Senate Judiciary Committee vote ended in a tie: 11 Democrats for, 11 Republicans against. And she published a statement on her website about what charges should always be declined. She also advocates defunding the police, according to a press release by Senator Ted Cruz. If confirmed, which could easily happen, she would have immense power to not prosecute federal offenses.
Suffolk County includes the cities of Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop. For her part, Rollins says her policies help steer people away from the criminal justice system. Is that good or bad? It depends on the situation.
She listed several charges in which she stated the default is to decline prosecution. These are offenses from the Massachusetts state/local level – not federal ones. Would she actually not prosecute certain federal offenses? Possibly. She would also be the first ‘woman of color’ in the position.
- Shoplifting (including offenses that are essentially shoplifting but charged as larceny)
- Larceny under $250
- Disorderly conduct
- Disturbing the peace
- Receiving stolen property
- Minor driving offenses, including operating with a suspended or revoked license
- Breaking and entering — where it is into a vacant property or where it is for the purpose of sleeping or seeking refuge from the cold and there is no actual damage to property
- Wanton or malicious destruction of property
- Threats – excluding domestic violence
- Minor in possession of alcohol
- Drug possession
- Drug possession with intent to distribute
- A stand-alone resisting arrest charge, i.e. cases where a person is charged with resisting arrest and that is the only charge
- A resisting arrest charge combined with only charges that all fall under the list of charges to decline to prosecute, e.g. resisting arrest charge combined only with a trespassing charge
Rachael Rollins explained on her website:
Instead of prosecuting, these cases should be (1) outright dismissed prior to arraignment or (2) where appropriate, diverted and treated as a civil infraction for which community service is satisfactory, restitution is satisfactory or engagement with appropriate community-based no-cost programming, job training or schooling is satisfactory. In the exceptional circumstances where prosecution of one of these charges is warranted, the line DA must first seek permission from his or her supervisor. If necessary, arraignment will be continued to allow for consultation with supervisor. Thus, there will be an avenue for prosecuting these misdemeanors when necessary but it will be appropriately overseen by experienced prosecutors.
Some of the charges she wants to decline are offenses that involve small business owners, property owners, and your sons or daughters – as an example, in the case of possession with intent to deliver drugs.
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