Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington took a look back at her second year in office and in email delivered to WSBS, she had the following to say:

My second year in office is coming to a close and I am taking this time to reflect on the substantial changes we made to our judicial system. We began by eliminating cash bail so people are not detained simply because they couldn’t afford it. We created the Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force to change the culture of violence against women. We created a juvenile diversion program to treat kids like kids and prevent them from entering a system so often considered a maze with no exit. We are creating a culture of harm reduction to truly address substance use and made inroads in ending the War on Drugs by moving to community-based treatment instead of incarceration. We won grants to increase victim services and bring social-emotional learning into the schools. We created a formal Brady Policy to promote public trust in law enforcement and ensure prosecutors are fulfilling their responsibility to disclose potentially exculpatory evidence to defense counsel.

 

Those are just the bold initiatives that made headlines over the last two years. We created internal policies to ensure fair and just outcomes. We modernized technology. We increased diversity among our office staff. We adopted vertical prosecution, evidence-based prosecution, we held dangerous people accountable and we created partnerships for robust community-based prevention efforts.

 

Our work is not done yet. We’ll be starting a project with Duke University next month to enhance our data collection – specifically to analyze our plea agreements so we can work to eliminate racial disparities. We are developing restorative justice programs. We are looking to implement a District Court diversion program.

 

We will continue to address the unexpected challenges our community confronts – the Coronavirus’ impact on our children, increased substance use from stress, mental health, racial disparities, women and children unsafe in their own homes, and the fundamental rights to a jury trial.

 

As the snow now falls amid a second surge of the pandemic, I wish you all have happy and safe holidays and know that my dedication to fundamentally change the justice system will not waiver as we enter 2021.

You can get more information about the Berkshire District Attorney's office by going here.

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