Gov. Charlie Baker Hopes to Hit Reset Button With DA Rachael Rollins Over Criminal Justice Reforms

The governor and Suffolk County DA have been at odds over her 66-page proposal on how to manage the opioid crisis and some drug possession crimes

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker spoke out Saturday regarding the public dispute between his administration and newly elected Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins over her criminal justice reform proposals.

At an event at the Reggie Lewis Center, Baker took the time to address how his top public safety official, Thomas Turco III, criticized Rollins' suggestion to have pretrial release conditions include GPS monitoring and orders to stay away from certain areas or people.

"My concerns haven't changed," Baker said Saturday. "The issues that were raised in Secretary Turco's memo are ones that I think there should be a dialogue with the DA's office about."

Turco's comments were raised in a letter to Rollins after she outlined a 66-page proposal last week on how she wanted to manage the ongoing opioid crisis in the state. In that proposal, Rollins wants the state to refrain from prosecuting some drug possession crimes and certain minor crimes.

In public comments made Friday, Rollins indicated she was going to make good on a campaign promise to steer away from prosecuting 15 low-level crimes like shoplifting and drug possession.

"I didn't get into this job to make friends I got into this job to make change," Rollins said Friday.

She also seemed to refer to an incident last year when Baker's son was accused of inappropriately touching a woman on a plane.

"Candidly, not everyone gets the benefit of the Baker family when they have interacted with the justice system, they don't get to not get arrested, have the state police that reports to them handle the investigation," Rollins said.

Baker said he has spoken with Rollins over the phone and they both agree there are flaws in the criminal justice system but how to fix them is where they disagree. He hopes to set the reset button next week.

"I don't want to damage that partnership. I want the partnership to be there and to work," said Baker. "And I fully expect come Monday it will."

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