The Codcast: Devin McCourty tackles criminal justice reform

When New England Patriots co-captain Devin McCourty joined the protests first set off by Colin Kaepernick and “took a knee” during the National Anthem last season, he was making a statement about racial justice issues in the country and the treatment of blacks by law enforcement officials.

President Trump quickly “hijacked” the issue, McCourty says on the Codcast, by painting it as a sign of disrespect toward those who have served in the military. It’s an absurd charge, says the team’s standout free safety, adding that many of those protesting have family members who serve in the military or who have given their lives for their country. But the controversy over the symbolic protests did reinforce for McCourty a belief in the need to take more tangible steps to back up the broad statements with real work at the ground level.

That has led the soft-spoken NFL star into a new role: champion of criminal justice reform. In February, he co-authored an op-ed in the Boston Globe with team owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft, calling on Beacon Hill leaders to enact reforms related to juveniles, and McCourty made a trip to the State House to lobby for the issue. He gives a huge shout-out to the team owners for their willingness to get involved in the issue. “This is real life,” he says. “I think it shows more of who they are as people.”

The bill Gov. Charlie Baker signed in April included one of two provisions they called for – raising the age at which children can be charged in juvenile court from 7 to 12. They also urged lawmakers to raise the lower age of adult court jurisdiction from 18 to 19, a move that the bill established a task force to study. McCourty says too many kids with great potential get stuck with juvenile records at very young ages that mark them for failure.

Next up for McCourty and other players could be an effort to promote greater attention to the open race for Suffolk County district attorney, a position with enormous power to decide who and what to prosecute.

McCourty played down his involvement in criminal justice reform and race issues, saying professional athletes have long taken up various causes, citing the work of players on everything from diabetes to cancer to Tom Brady’s Best Buddies International initiative, which aids intellectually and developmentally disabled people.

As worthy as those efforts are, they are safe ground.

McCourty and other black players are stirring conversation on what has long been one of the most difficult issues in American life. “I think we’ve always lived with it, but I think we’re starting to see that we have a platform that can create change,” he says of the decision of black players to take on race issues. “It hasn’t been all easy and all smiles,” he says of the reaction they’ve drawn.

His Twitter feed has blown up with hate-filled, racist messages of all kinds. He says Trump’s attacks on the players have helped enable that. “I think there’s probably been people who have felt that way for years and they just stay in their little bubble, and now they have the confidence because he’s the president of the United States, and if he says it, they’re like, this is okay,” says McCourty.

But McCourty is a glass-half-full guy, suggesting that Trump has done a service of a sorts by unwittingly forcing a conversation that has long been submerged below the surface. “I think because of his remarks, you now have a conversation and a topic that has to be addressed, and people want to address it,” he says.

We’re getting “comfortable talking about uncomfortable things,” he says, hopefully.



MassLive provides a rundown of some of the more than 1,000 proposed amendments to the Senate budget, including one that would allow cities and towns to pass local taxes for transportation projects.

The Baker administration, which had been pushing to get MBTA employees who were being paid through the agency’s capital budget onto the operation budget side of the ledger, is now asking the Legislature to let some of those workers continue to be paid from capital budget funds. (Boston Globe)


A manager with the Fall River Housing Authority, who has been suspended without pay for sexual harassment, has reached a settlement worth $120,000 with the agency to remain on paid suspension until next year. The arrangement allows him to collect his salary and vacation buyout and then apply for retirement. (Herald News)

A Globe editorial pans Mayor Marty Walsh’s proposal to ban investor-owned Airbnb rental units.

Kettle Cuisine spends $700,000 on chimneys that are expected to eliminate the smell of garlic and onions that has been hanging over the Lynnway. (Daily Item)

Veterans and concerned citizens gathered at the Unitarian Universalist church in Gloucester to discuss gun control. (Gloucester Times)


In an unprecedented move, President Trump said he will order the Justice Department to investigate whether the FBI  “infiltrated” his campaign. (Washington Post) Meanwhile, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Special Counsel Robert Mueller will wrap up his investigation by September 1 to avoid influencing the November elections, though there’s been no word from Mueller whether that is true. (New York Times)

Trump is having second thoughts about his planned meeting with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un. He is increasingly worried the summit could turn into a political embarrassment. (New York Times)


A Berkshire Eagle editorial, citing a report by CommonWealth, said political scheming has tainted the race for Berkshire County district attorney.

Former governor Michael Dukakis weighs in on what he thinks is wrong with the Democratic party locally and nationally. (Keller@Large)

The Globe finds more employees in Secretary of State William Galvin’s office who were doing work for his reelection campaign during regular work hours.

The Framingham Democratic Town Committee voted against holding a caucus to choose a candidate for the seat of the late state representative Chris Walsh, opting instead to have a write-in campaign for the September primary. (MetroWest Daily News)

Teen employment in the summer is down to just over 40 percent from a high of 72 percent in 1978 and school year employment is showing similar declines, according to the  Bureau of Labor Statistics, as more focus is put on academics. (U.S. News & world Report)

Adrian Walker decries the effort to kick the last artists out of the Piano Factory building in Boston’s South End. The building began offering artists reasonably priced live-work space in the mid-1970s. (Boston Globe)


Shuttered Mount Ida College was kept afloat in its final years by a $16 million loan from a wealthy 98-year-old New York City resident with connections to college president Barry Brown, an arrangement that several expert say appears to be problematic. (Boston Globe)

Triumvirate Environmental, a Somerville hazardous and medical waste disposal firm, is offering to pay all of students’ tuition and fee costs at the University of Massachusetts Boston if they agree to come work for the company. (Boston Globe)


Expanding broadband access to rural areas can serve a vital function in filling gaps in health care services, write former Federal Communications Commission chairman Newton Minow and the agency’s current chairman, Ajit Pai. (Boston Globe)


Four Stoughton High School students were killed and a fifth is in critical condition after a high-speed crash in East Bridgewater Sunday. (The Enterprise)

Hingham officials are starting a pilot program Memorial Day weekend that will reduce the number of lanes from two to one each way on the busy (and dangerous) main thoroughfare to Hull and Nantasket Beach. The pilot program will run for two months and could become permanent. (Patriot Ledger)


Eversource exec Penni Conner says it is time to rein in competitive electricity suppliers, but stops short of backing Attorney General Maura Healey’s call for eliminating them. (CommonWealth)

Tricia K. Jedele, who represents Rhode Island commercial fishermen, says the rush to build offshore wind farms off the coast of Massachusetts is irresponsible. (CommonWealth)

Ann Berwick says natural gas is not a clean fuel. (CommonWealth)

Two UMass Amherst professors, James K. Boyce and Raymond S. Bradley, say Massachusetts needs to put a price on carbon. (CommonWealth)

Bradley Campbell, who arrived in Boston in 2015 to helm the Conservation Law Foundation, is ruffling lots of feathers with his fierce advocacy. (Boston Globe)


The recent criminal justice reform bill provides a new path for “compassionate release” of elderly inmates, who cost the state millions of dollars a year to keep behind bars, but there is lots of pressure to keep serious offenders behind bars, regardless of their age. (New England Center for Investigative Reporting)

Renee Loth slams Gov. Charlie Baker’s plans to reintroduce a death penalty bill, saying evidence shows that capital punishment does not serve as a deterrent, and is racist, applied inconsistently, and costly. (Boston Globe)

A Herald editorial applauds a “Prison Reform Summit” President Trump held on Friday focusing on ways to reduce inmate recidivism.

A parent was charged with bringing a gun to a Braintree elementary school. (Patriot Ledger)