Dem candidate for MA attorney general Maura Healey bears the mark of the progressive — she wants to go to the root of big problems and solve them. Click below to hear how she’d tackle two complex, interrelated areas of criminal-justice reform and gun violence.
Because of the recent dust-ups, in debates on BlueMassGroup and in local media, we did deal with what I see as distractions. Granted she and almost certain Dem primary opponent Warren Tolman do share a lot of lefty values and ideas. They clearly diverge on some, such as he favors casinos and she is against them. Yet, they are in that odd vortex of swirling mini-issues. There are:
- Dueling People’s Pledge proposals. She offered a more restrictive version with no direct mail included. He countered with one allowing direct mail. Neither excluded robo-calls. She thinks they’ll compromise. Meanwhile it looks a little egocentric all around.
- Online gambling connection. Tolman has an interest in gambling software. He stepped back from active involvement and says he’ll divest if he wins AG. She sees that as a real issue and conflict.
- Possible ethics issue for Healey’s partner. Her partner is an Appeals Court judge. Healey used their house, owned on paper by the partner, as campaign HQ for several months. While this possible ethics conflict was checked out in advance by Healey and her partner, we can be sure this will come up in debates and ads.
I had to laugh at myself because I used to complain that the Boston Globewas firing local reporters and not covering politics well. Now they are much heavier into political coverage, but seem to concentrate on getting something, anything, salacious, questionable or scandalous on any statewide candidate for office. Of course, she took it all as just part of seeking office. Here’s hoping these lightweight topics go away so we can stick to big issues.
In that vein, Healey has big visions for what’d she aim to do as AG. You can read them on her site. You can also get more of her background and goals in a ringing endorsement at BlueMassGroup by Sen. Jamie Eldridge.
Today at Left Ahead, we focused on two interrelated areas, criminal-justice and guns.
Healey is decidedly not a throw-away-the-key person. While she has been a prosecutor and has many affiliations with law enforcement, she seems appalled by the devastation to individuals and families by the current court/prison systems, as well as the huge costs to the taxpayer. She says we need to invest instead in:
- Not unnecessarily going for long, mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenses for example
- Recognizing the large percentage of inmates who are substance abusers, and providing them treatment in prison and afterward
- Enabling high-school and even college online education in prison to help prepare inmates for reentry
- Similarly, when reasonable, sentences served in lower security facilities nearly inmates homes to get them ready for post-prison life
- Mental health screening and treatment
Gun violence has as similar approach and is of great importance to her. While MA has pretty strict gun laws, there are still about 200 gun-related deaths a year here and many ways guns and bullets arrive legally and illegally. Healey does not see this simply as an issue of gun sales.
Many of these root causes of gun violence overlap with criminal-justice reform. (Her issues page on it with details is here.) Perhaps most obviously, she’d go to mental health and addiction treatment and prevention. Breaking cycles of violence relates to drug trafficking as well as limiting gun sales and smuggling.
Some of her proposals are simpler and in some ways easier to implement. She wants legislation mandating tracking of every gun, and every bullet, sold. As she noted, the bullet stays at the crime scene in many cases.
These two areas are big deals Healey said she’d concentrate on as AG. Each requires considerable investment. She figures she can convince legislators and others fairly easily. Basically, it would be cheaper to do the right things and attack the root causes than continue tossing people in prison without treating the underlying problems. “What we have going on right now isn’t working,” she said.