Two of the country’s most high-profile progressive prosecutors resigned last week in a major setback for the criminal justice reform movement.
Kim Gardner of St. Louis and Rachel Rollins of Boston are two black women spearheading a nationwide effort to reduce prison sentences, implement restorative justice, and hold police accountable. be. Both men rose to prominence during the Trump administration, when state and city officials were seen by opponents of the administration as key backers for regressive policies from Washington.
While the two resignations were unrelated, the two prosecutors’ respective problems are emblematic of the movement’s struggle to lose some of the public favor it previously enjoyed. are doing.
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Celtics Tickets, Biden Fundraisers and Political Intrigue
In 2018, Rollins won a crowded Democratic primary and became the first black woman to become the Boston district attorney.
Taking a cue from fellow progressive district attorneys Larry Krasner of Philadelphia and Kim Fox of Chicago, Ms Rollins said she would no longer be prosecuting certain crimes.includes shoplifting and theft related to merchandise under $250.
A local publication called Rollins “Bringing a criminal justice system into the broadly awakened 21st century is Boston’s greatest hope.”
In mid-2021, President Biden named Rollins as the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts. Again, she will be the first black woman to take on the role. Her nomination was highly praised by Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey (both Democrats), calling her a “ “National Leader on Transformation of the Criminal Justice System.”
Republicans unilaterally opposed her nomination, along with Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Emerging as a particularly vocal critic. In the end, Rollins was confirmed, and Vice President Kamala Harris took the tie in the Senate.
Her political demise began on July 14, 2022. I decided to participate in Mr. Biden’s fundraiser in Andover, Massachusetts.Despite being advised not to. Mr. Cotton immediately called for an investigation because Mr. Rollins appeared to have violated the Hatch Act, which bans government employees from political advocacy.
A Justice Department inspector general has launched an investigation. It culminated in a report released last week. The report extends far beyond the Andover fundraiser, with Mr. Rollins receiving free Boston Celtics tickets and traveling to both New York and Los Angeles at the expense of Hollywood powerhouse Creative Artists Agency. It details how the trip is supposed to have taken place.
Her conduct “fell well below the standard of professionalism and judgment that the Department of Justice should expect from its staff, much less from federal prosecutors,” said Attorney General Michael Horowitz in a long and shocking report. rice field.
Another investigation — this one conducted by Special Counsel Henry Kerner — would have equally devastating consequences. It describes how Rollins leaked damaging information about political opponents to reporters in Boston in hopes of breaking his move to keep the vacated district attorney’s office. In 2021.
Kerner’s report was also released last week. In a letter to Biden, Kerner said Rollins had committed “an extraordinary abuse of power.” (Horowitz had broader powers, but the leak also featured prominently in the judicial report.)
Rollins resigned on wednesdayher nemesis Cotton was quick to celebrate the move.
“I warned Democratic Senators that Rachel Rollins was not only a pro-crime ideologue, but also had a history of poor judgment and ethical error.” he said in a statement.
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“Rudderless Ship of Chaos”
Gardner, like Rollins, is a historic figure and in 2017 became the first black person to be elected St. Louis’s attorney general.
“We all want quality of life and want to make sure our streets are safer.” Gardner said after winning:“But we have to deal with a broken criminal justice system.”
Her tenure was difficult from the beginning. In an investigation into disgraced Gov. Eric Gleitens, who resigned amid ridiculous allegations of violent sexual assault, she identified former FBI agent William Don Tisserby, who was indicted in 2019 on charges of tampering with evidence. Hired.
Like many progressive prosecutors, Mr. Gardner found his office a difficult place to implement reforms. In 2021, a judge charged that her office “effectively waived its obligation to prosecute those accused of the crime.” After the prosecutor failed to appear at the murder hearing.
Trust in Gardner further eroded in FebruaryA Tennessee teen lost both legs after being hit by a speeding driver while visiting St. Louis with her parents. Gardner was found guilty of 94 bail violations in the two years before the crash, prompting calls for Gardner’s resignation.
Earlier this year, Gardner began taking nursing classes at a local college.State Republican Attorney General called her office “Rudderless Ship of Chaos”
Republican state officials moved to strip Gardner of power.Gardner is already set to resign at the end of the month. On Tuesday she said she would resign immediately.
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the future of exercise
Social justice protests across the country were punctuated by calls for defunding the police, seemingly in keeping with the new prosecutor’s approach.
but consistently high Rising crime rates ultimately prompted calls for a more traditional law and order approach, but progressive prosecutors resisted. This led to a new round of intense scrutiny of their policies and practices that some businesses could not stand.
Gardner and Rollins are not the first progressive prosecutors to experience downfall.
In the summer of 2021, San Francisco voters ousted progressive prosecutor Chesa Boudin, inflicting a crushing defeat on him and the movement he represents.
Last year, Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby was indicted on charges of financial fraud and perjury.and then lost the primary election.
Earlier this year, Chicago prosecutors Fox said: announced that it would not seek a third term.
Krasner of Philadelphia survived the recall, as did fellow progressive George Gascon of Los Angeles. But the movement they represent has only recently lost its momentum.
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