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Nominee for federal prosecutor in Boston defends her record

October 4, 2021 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s pick for U.S. attorney for Massachusetts fought back during a radio interview Monday against Republican claims that she’s not tough enough on criminals

Rachael Rollins, who is currently the top prosecutor for the city of Boston and several suburbs, said on GBH News that her progressive approach to crime, including her decision to not prosecute low-level crimes and back police reform, is working.

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee split 11-11 along party lines in a vote that followed strong objections from Republican members of the panel, including Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who called Rollins a “pro-criminal activist.”

Rollins said Monday she is “pro justice,” which means accountability for victims and their families, but at the same time making sure “the system works all the time, and I am not going to be silent when it doesn’t.”

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She said Republicans’ contentions that her approach does not work is not supported by the evidence.

“Boston remains one of the only major cities in America where violent crime is down,” she said.

She acknowledged that speaking out during the confirmation process is unusual, but said she will not remain silent and “everything about me breaks a pattern.”

The committee’s vote last week broke with a nearly 30-year precedent in forcing a roll call vote on Rollins’ nomination. Seven other nominees advanced easily.

The move forces Democratic leaders to call a vote of the full Senate just to bring the nomination up for consideration. That vote — and then the final vote confirming Rollins’ nomination — would require a simple majority in the evenly split chamber.

“I remain optimistic and look forward to the confirmation in the full Senate,” she said Monday.

An email seeking comment was left Monday with a spokesperson for Cotton.

Last week a spokesperson for Cotton said: “Rachel Rollins measures success as a prosecutor not by the number of victims she secures justice for, but by the number of criminals she helps avoid consequences.”

Rollins, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Massachusetts, has pushed for progressive criminal justice reforms since being elected in 2018 as the first woman of color to serve as Suffolk district attorney.

If confirmed by the Senate, she’d become the first Black woman to serve as U.S. attorney for Massachusetts.