fbpx Reimagining Community Safety #4: A Discussion with Rachael Rollins (10/14/20) | Harvard Kennedy School

When reimagining community safety, we most often think in terms of the police (whether or not or when to rely on them) and policing (reforms that might improve community members’ sense of safety). Prosecutors, however, are critical to our experience of community safety. To the extent that they help to create more effective accountability measures and co-produce community safety with the communities that they serve, they are central actors in bringing about the type of change that historically marginalized communities crave. Rachael Rollins, Suffolk County (MA) District Attorney, has established a reputation as a progressive prosecutor who is committed to reforming the penal system in ways that could help realize greater fairness, justice, and equity for those directly and indirectly affected by the system. DA Rollins offered insights into how we might realize a reimagined system that protects and serves us all.
 

Rachael RollinsSuffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins is the chief law enforcement officer for Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop, Massachusetts. She is the first woman ever elected as District Attorney in Suffolk County and the first woman of color ever elected to serve in this role in Massachusetts. 

Since taking office, Rollins has implemented humane and data-supported policies to keep Suffolk County safe. Policies that no longer criminalize mental health issues, substance use disorders, food and housing insecurities, and immigration status, instead focusing her limited resources on the most violent and serious crimes.

An attorney for over 20 years, Rollins previously worked as a field attorney with the National Labor Relations Board; as an associate at the law firm Bingham McCutchen; and as a federal prosecutor at the United States Attorney’s Office in Boston. She has served as General Counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and as Chief Legal Counsel for the Massachusetts Port Authority. 

Rollins was a Governor Deval Patrick appointee to the Judicial Nominating Commission, a past president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, and served a three year term on the Boston Bar Association Council. She is a proud resident of Roxbury, where she lives with her daughter, two nieces, and French Bulldog Cassius.