AG’s Codman Square forum tackles criminal justice, fraud

By Jennifer Smith
Dorchester Reporter
Jun. 22, 2017

Attorney General Maura Healey said she plans to continue to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable during a town hall event in Codman Square last Thursday that was consumed by talk of criminal justice, financial fraud, and community violence. About 200 people packed into the Great Hall near the Codman Square Health Center for the forum, including panelists state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, state Rep. Russell Holmes, City Councillor At-Large Ayanna Pressley, and District 4 City Councillor Andrea Campbell.

Healey and her staff have made the rounds of community meetings in recent weeks, taking questions and noting concerns from residents, but also reminding them what her role is as legal counsel for the Commonwealth.

“You have to really beware,” Healey said, warning attendees about disreputable financial behavior from institutions targeting underserved communities while failing to reinvest in them. She highlighted a settlement with Santander Bank and a win against a financial adviser who did not to deliver on a reverse mortgage.

As to violence, she reminded the residents of Dorchester and Mattapan, neighborhoods where 12 of the city’s 18 homicides so far in 2017 have occurred, that “no other country sees levels of violence like we experience. It’s all about will,” she said. “We know the way, we know the way to make it happen, but it’s all about will, and I just want to commit to you that in addition to enforcing laws, I am going to work really hard on reducing violence, working with others, whether that means getting illegal guns off our streets, but more importantly, stopping them from coming in in the first place.”

Last month, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed federal prosecutors to seek the most serious provable charges and pursue the longest sentences in criminal cases. This comes as conversations in Massachusetts regarding criminal justice reform increasingly weigh eliminating some mandatory minimums.

Healey said she supports eliminating some mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, probation fees, lowering the cost of calls inmates make from jail, and raising the $250 cap on the threshold for felony theft. “I’m in favor of eliminating the fees that are out there,” she said. “The only fees that I’m mindful of are the victim fees, you know. But never should anybody be in jail or have probation revoked because they can’t afford to pay someone back.”

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