Harrington looks to continue his progressive work in the DA’s re-election bid / iBerkshires.com

Andrea Harrington speaks at the opening of the new Goodwill store earlier this week. Harrington is seeking a second term as district attorney.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Andrea Harrington wants to continue the work she began during her first term as district attorney.

“I’m running again because there’s more work than I want to do to modernize the criminal justice system here in Berkshire County,” she said. “I think we’ve been incredibly effective in tackling violent crime and getting people who need treatment the help they need.”

She highlighted some of her accomplishments over the past four years, including ending cash bail, focusing on racial and economic equity, reducing prosecutions for petty crimes, and diverting offenders to services. communities, and the creation of special units and programs for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and work on preventive measures.

Harrington beat incumbent Paul Caccaviello not once but twice in 2018 on a criminal justice reform platform to become the county’s first woman to head the district attorney’s office. In the 2022 primary election, she was challenged by fellow Democrat Timothy Shugrue.

She launched her re-election campaign at the end of May in Great Barrington with US Representative Jamie Raskin at her side and several local leaders. The Maryland Democrat has known Harrington from his time at American University’s Washington College of Law, where he taught constitutional law.

Harrington’s first priorities were to create a domestic violence task force, end the use of cash bail, and provide treatment for nonviolent offenders while incarcerated.

The progressive prosecutor said she would place all of these initiatives under a broader umbrella in which she believes the office has changed the culture of law enforcement in Berkshire County by focusing resources on investigations and prosecutions. aggressive violent crimes.

She added that her office has also had a positive impact on thousands of people who are brought before the justice system for non-violent offenses and provided them with the help they need.

“I’m frankly amazed by the huge impact we’ve had in those two areas,” Harrington said.

“And I think they go hand in hand because we need to focus our resources and our time and our efforts on the cases that really need law enforcement and court intervention and people with health issues mental health, the impacts of poverty, substance issues, they need more rehab approaches and I’m amazed at how well we’ve been able to achieve those goals.”

The Task Force was established in April 2019 and the Domestic Violence High Risk Team in 2020 to bring together multiple disciplines to strengthen social service and law enforcement responses to domestic violence.

In 2021, Harrington’s office expanded the Berkshire Law Enforcement Task Force to include a violent crimes section that focuses on sexual assault, high-risk domestic violence, and human trafficking cases. Human being.

The new cash bail policy was also implemented soon after the new prosecutor took office. In a “100 Days” interview with iBerkshires in 2019, Harrington explained that the goal was to only ask for cash bail if the person has a demonstrated risk of leaving the area to avoid prosecution. For the most serious crimes, the focus was on detaining the accused if he or she poses a danger to others.

His other efforts over the past four years include adding a formal juvenile diversion program, creating a special victims unit to improve victim services and improve investigations, and creation of Berkshire DA’s first Hate Crimes Section to ensure hate incidents are fully prosecuted.

During Harrington’s tenure, she also embraced fair prosecution practices to combat over-policing and over-prosecuting communities of color.

In the next term, Harrington aims to implement a restorative justice program in Berkshire County. Restorative justice is an approach in which one of the responses to a crime is to arrange a meeting between the victim and the perpetrator, sometimes with representatives of the wider community.

She said that many people in the community are interested in this service and that there needs to be alignment between systems for such a change to happen.

For this, the office would have an agency to refer cases to for a restorative justice approach. Harrington referred to an “advanced” scheme in Middlesex County that provides such services through a non-profit organization.

“Strategically, I’ve focused this first term on things that the DA directly controls, and that’s who we charge and what we charge people, and we have some control over how resources are allocated in a certain extent,” she explained.

“And for my next term, my intention is to really do more around organizing resources and organizing the community on issues that the DA has less control over.”

Another goal for the next term is to continue to address racial disparities in the justice system.

“This issue was important to me before I became a DA and now that I’m a DA, I see how critical addressing racial disparities is to public safety as a whole, because we want people to trust the forces law enforcement, we want people to report when they’ve been victims of a crime, we want people to share information about serious cases with law enforcement,” Harrington explained.

“And for those things to happen, we need to have trust with all parts of our communities, so I see public safety as very much part of our agenda to address systemic racism in the criminal justice system.”

In the meantime, his office is also working to address the opioid epidemic by expanding harm reduction and gun violence with proactive rather than reactive responses. These are two issues that have a significant presence in the county.

Harrington said she is considering a new bill that would address the need to analyze data on how guns enter the community.

“The vast, vast, vast majority of guns seized from people who illegally possess them here in Berkshire County are ghost guns, they come from other places outside of Massachusetts,” she said. “We need the help of the federal government to stop the flow of weapons into our community.”

When asked how she reacted to criticism of her progressive practices, the DA said she was highlighting her accomplishments and focusing on the next right thing to do.

“You notice people don’t really talk about what we’ve done or what we’ve achieved in the office when they try to undermine the work of my office,” she added.

Harrington highlighted successes in major cases, the establishment of task forces and teams to address violent crime and domestic and sexual violence, and people who have been put into treatment by the office.

Throughout her campaign, she looks forward to talking to people in the community.

She is originally from Berkshire County, currently resides in Richmond and has been practicing criminal law for over 15 years.

Key words: district attorney, election 2022,

Maria D. Ervin