To the Editor:
In April of this year the new Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Bill was passed with bi-partisan support. A few months later, at an OLLI study University Day on Criminal Justice at Bard College at Simon’s Rock I heard Adam Hinds enthusiastically describe the details he worked hard to fashion. I was struck by the entirely new direction to the justice system and the changes in our communities it will bring about.
This new legal system changes many “lock-’em up” policies that resulted in overcrowded, unaffordable prisons. It makes many practical changes to divert lesser offenders to treatment and community programming instead of immediate incarceration that makes their lives and our lives worse. Later, I heard a revered local ACLU lawyer stress that the new reform act makes the DA’s office more important than ever. It has to understand and implement these changes.
I followed the campaigns of all three Democratic candidates. Cacciavello ruled himself out not only by the political maneuver which made him the incumbent DA (worthy of a McConnell) but he is associated with the usual “lock-’em up” policies we all know. Judith Knight and Andrea Harrington both embraced the direction of the new law and were intent on change. I listened to them, followed both campaigns and provoked interest by putting both their signs out.
Andrea Harrington got my vote. She worked tirelessly, vigorously; she described in detail her intention of implementing the new policies by planning community outreach and inter-agency cooperation and getting state funds needed for new staff and social services.
Knight had a lot of sympathy and respect from me but did not seem to have the fighting strength and determination Harrington showed over and over again.
We need that strength and determination to change direction, find the funds, find the ways to bring community solutions to the drug addiction so incredibly high in Berkshire County, to change the hopelessness trajectory beneath so much juvenile crime and repeat offenders.
Disregard the write-in line and vote for Harrington for hope.
Deborah Taylor Caine