Is Rollins right to be angry?

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins and 19 educators who support her approach to justice are angry about a Boston Globe story examining her record in prosecuting crimes over the last six months.

Rollins, in an interview this week with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio, said the Globe story focused heavily on one case out of roughly 8,000 her office has handled since she took office in January. She says that case, involving a Charlestown woman who was out walking her dog when she suffered serious injuries during an altercation with a young man, was taken out of context to suggest her policies are having a negative effect on public safety.

“You do not cherry pick matters and fear monger to say that the community is no longer safe,” Rollins said.

Nineteen educators sent an open letter to the Globe, which they also distributed to other news outlets, suggesting the article lacked context. “It relies upon a limited narrative structure to convey a clear, yet misleading, message to the reader: Rollins has gone too far, and the city is not safe,” the letter said.

Rollins paraphrased the educators in a far more extreme manner. “The 19 educators are saying this is not only Willie Hortonesque but almost Charles Stuartesque,” she said, referring to two criminals who in different ways stoked racist fears.

Horton, a black man serving a life sentence for murder in Massachusetts, became a national symbol for being soft on crime when he escaped while out on a furlough and raped and assaulted a woman in Maryland. Stuart was a white man who shot and killed his pregnant wife but then falsely blamed the crime on a black man who he said had hijacked the couple’s car in Roxbury.

Rollins’s description of the Globe’s story seems over the top. The story has two parts, one that analyzes her prosecution record so far and the other featuring a back and forth between critics and Rollins over what she describes as her holistic approach to law enforcement. “I represent not just the victim, but the defendant and the community,” she told the Globe.

Rollins is correct that the analysis of her prosecution record appears to skip over instances where she made what might be considered the right call and focused on a handful of cases where her decisions were questioned. The most gripping of those was the case in Charlestown, where the victim complained about the decision to allow the defendant, who had mental health issues, to plead guilty to a lesser charge and avoid prison time. The victim, in an email to prosecutors, called the deal “flagrant, appalling, and disgusting,” according to the Globe.

Eagan pressed Rollins on this example of what she called “random violence” and demanded to know what was different between the Charlestown case and a more recent case involving an EMT who was stabbed by a woman with mental health issues. In the EMT case, Rollins said, she adopted a more hard-line stance in regard to bail.

Rollins suggested the Globe focused on the Charlestown case because it involved a white woman who suffered injuries at the hands of a man of color. “Let’s walk through who they are catering to in the Globe,” she said.

When Eagan continued to press Rollins’s handling of the case, Rollins remarked how Eagan appeared to know few of the details but nevertheless questioned Rollins’s judgment. “This is the sense of entitlement I’m talking about,” she said.

Rollins noted the Charlestown case occurred some two years ago when her predecessor, Dan Conley held the DA’s post. “Dan Conley charged this case. Dan Conley offered the same thing that my office offered. The only difference is we added $5,000 restitution,” she said.

But the Globe story quotes the lawyer representing the defendant in the Charlestown case as saying he would never have gotten the same deal from Conley’s office. Indeed, he confirmed in an interview with CommonWealth that Conley refused to drop the felony charge while Rollins agreed to a deal allowing the defendant to plead guilty to a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

Rollins says the Globe story failed to point out that crime was down 9 percent in the first six months of the year. She didn’t take credit for that drop, but she noted she and Boston Police Commissioner William Gross live in the community and are responsive to concerns.

A Globe editorial, which ran after the story appeared, praised Rollins for following through on her campaign promises. While the editorial said her execution at times has been bumpy, it urged her to refine her approach, not abandon it. “While she’s at it, she’d help her own cause immensely by developing a thicker skin in the face of the inevitable criticism and dropping the unlawyerly statements that only diminish her work,” the editorial said.

Fat chance of that happening. In her interview with Braude and Eagan, Rollins suggested the criticism of her is largely because she is a black woman. “If I had male genitals right now I’d be on the cover of Time magazine,” she said.

–BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

The chairs of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee ask for a lot of documents and many witnesses, including ousted registrar Erin Deveney, in advance of an oversight hearing Monday dealing with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. (MassLive)

Gov. Charlie Baker didn’t stray far from his own home when he visited Swampscott’s Jackson Park to announce $80 million in subsidies and $38 million in tax credits to spur affordable housing. (Salem News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Dorchester section of Boston is changing rapidly. Latest evidence? A Target store is moving into a small mall in the Fields Corner section. (Dorchester Reporter)

Six months after the city of New Bedford put up signs asking the public to consider alternatives to giving panhandlers cash, the panhandlers are still at it. Mayor Jon Mitchell believes the signs have served their intended purposes, which he says is to limit pedestrian activity on high-speed medians. (Standard-Times) 

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

A girl who left El Salvador at the age of 16 this spring to come to the United States recalls how at a border patrol facility in Clint, Texas, she went a week without showering or changing, and slept on the floor. (WBUR)

Puerto Ricans in Boston rallied yesterday, calling for scandal-plagued Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to resign. (WGBH)

ELECTIONS

Health care, which unified Democrats as they racked up gains in the 2018 midterm election, is proving to be a big fault line in the 2020 presidential nomination fight. (Boston Globe)

President Trump’s rally in North Carolina, complete with “send her back” chants directed at Rep. Ilhan Omar, is just the latest version of his well-worn campaign strategy of whipping crowds into a frothy frenzy — and then disavowing the hate-filled antics that ensue. (Politico)

State Rep. Randy Hunt, a Republican from Sandwich, will not seek a sixth term in 2020, saying “the time is right” to focus on his family. Hunt has represented the 5th Barnstable District since 2011. (Cape Cod Times) 

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Developer FoxRock Properties and residents of the Hospital Hill neighborhood of Quincy are at an impasse over the size of a proposed residential community of 490 apartments and townhomes. (Patriot Ledger)

EDUCATION

A Roslindale school will get a new $275,000 soccer field courtesy of the United Arab Emirates — and not everyone is happy about it. (Boston Globe)

Rhode Island’s state education commissioner will move to take control of the troubled Providence school district. (Boston Globe)

Ed Wingenbach, the new president of Hampshire College, says the school is facing challenges but also has a really good story to tell. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

An effort by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts effort to reward physicians who restrain health care costs while maintaining quality is showing positive results, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. (Boston Globe)

Sixteen states, prodded by the National Center for Sexual Exploitation, have declared porn a public health crisis. (Governing)

ARTS/CULTURE

Pamela Tatge, the director of Jacob’s Pillow, launched a discussion about race in the wake of a June 15 gala where a biracial guest was subjected to two incidents of racial discrimination. The discussion seems to be resonating with the public. (Berkshire Eagle)

TRANSPORTATION 

Opposition appears to be growing to a MassDOT land deal in East Boston that critics fear would forestall future transportation options for the property. (CommonWealth)

As Boston looks to redesign Blue Hill Avenue, WGBH looks back at the dedicated bus lane proposal for the thoroughfare that was buried under neighborhood opposition a decade ago. (WGBH)

Experts say it won’t be easy for the state to reach its goal of 300,000 zero-emission vehicles by 2025. (MetroWest Daily News)

Globe columnist Shirley Leung may have ditched the Red Line following last month’s derailment,  but she explains what’s going on with repairs to the line for all the poor schlubs still stuck riding the rails.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

State wildlife officials propose a ban on coyote killing contests. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

CASINOS

After a preliminary investigation, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission says the odds being used by Encore Boston Harbor for blackjack do not violate any rules or regulations. (State House News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Two attorneys from the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute say a court database on evictions is misleading and full of errors but nevertheless being used by landlords as a tenant screening tool. (CommonWealth)

Prosecutors have charged Timy Jo Griffin with murder, alleging that he shook or slammed his girlfriend’s healthy toddler into unconsciousness prior to his death in 2016. (Brockton Enterprise) 

MEDIA

News industry analyst Ken Doctor says it looks like a done deal — GateHouse Media will acquire the Gannett chain. (Nieman Journalism Lab)

In an interview with the Lowell Sun promoting his new book, Glen Johnson recalls his start at the paper and the day John Kerry called offering him a job in the State Department.

Boston College Law School professor Kent Greenfield argues that President Trump is a racist and Fox News deserves a lot of blame for the racism. (WBUR)

Trouble looming? The number of Netflix subscribers fell in the second quarter. (Variety)