Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Rachael Rollins wants to remake the criminal justice system. Republicans have vowed to block her path

By Joanna Slater, Washington Post

BOSTON — When President Biden announced a slate of nominees to serve as top federal prosecutors across the country, Republican senators approved them without controversy.

All except for one.

When it came to Rachael Rollins, the nominee for United States attorney for the district of Massachusetts, Republicans vowed to block her ascent, calling her “pro-criminal,” “radical” and “dangerous.” They used a procedural maneuver to delay the progress of her nomination, the first time such a step had been taken in nearly 30 years.

Rollins, 50, has emerged as a lightning rod in the national debate over crime and policing. She is the district attorney in Boston, the first woman — and the first Black woman — to win the job. Rollins, a former federal prosecutor, is outspoken about her belief that the criminal justice system needs reform after decades of incarcerating too many people and allowing rogue police officers impunity.

Republicans are incensed by her policy of not prosecuting certain low-level, nonviolent offenses in most cases. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has said she is a “prosecutor in name only” who “consistently sides with criminals.” In a recent editorial, Cotton wrote that confirming Rollins would increase drug trafficking and gang activity across New England.

Rollins has described the attacks as surreal. “I have no problem being held accountable for things that I have done,” she said on a recent afternoon, sitting at her desk overlooking a federal government building in downtown Boston. “I just want to operate in a world, generally, where things are factual.”


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