Letter to the Editor

The DA can make a real difference

Dear Editor,

I have been so lucky to speak to many of you on the campaign trail. When I tell people I’m running for district attorney, a lot of people ask me: why should law abiding citizens be thinking about the district attorney’s race? I’ve been telling folks: our criminal justice system here in Middlesex County, and across the country, is broken. And the district attorney is in a unique position to fix it.

The ACLU tells us that voters agree: our criminal justice system is not working. Instead of focusing on rehabilitation programs, substance use treatment, and helping our neighbors become productive members of our communities, the criminal justice system measures success by how many people are behind bars. This is not what justice should look like.

District attorneys are among the most powerful officials in the criminal justice system. They play a major role in deciding the outcomes of individual cases, as well as setting criminal justice policy for their jurisdiction. When law enforcement arrests someone and charges them with a crime, the DA makes the decision whether to prosecute, whether a case should be diverted to community-based programs or to a specialty court, or whether to dismiss the case altogether. Previously, we have only asked our DAs to be “law and order” candidates.

We need to demand more. DAs have broad discretion over much more than just getting a conviction at any cost. DAs oversee charging decisions, sentencing recommendations, and plea deals among many other aspects of the criminal justice system, and because of this DAs are uniquely positioned to promote justice, equal treatment of minorities, and reduce mass incarceration.

I’ve been a prosecutor and I’ve worked as a defense attorney, and my experience has given me a new and unique perspective on the criminal justice system. It wasn’t until I started representing people that didn’t look like me that I fully realized – our justice system treats different people differently. District attorneys have the power and the responsibility to change that. DAs can create positive systemic change by addressing the racial inequities in our system and by focusing on both safety and social justice.

As Middlesex district attorney, I will do just that. I will end our reliance on mandatory minimums, expand the use of diversion programs, support the creation of sanctuary cities, implement an independent process to investigate corruption and use of force complaints, and restore integrity, transparency, and accountability to the Middlesex DA’s office. The district attorney is an extremely important elected position, and this September 4,primary election is an incredibly important race. I look forward to hearing from you on the campaign trail and seeing you at the polls on September 4th! I invite you to get in touch with my campaign at 857-529-7081 or to visit www.donna4da.com to learn more about my vision for both safety and social justice. I urge you all to go out to the polls and vote on September 4th.

Donna Patalano

Candidate for Middlesex District Attorney

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