Gary Allen Jessica Bergin Rachel Bier James Bor-Zale Gerard Cedrone Matt Costello Sarah Frazier Steven Garza Sharon V. Jones Kim Karon Jeanette Leopold George Manley Rachel McCarthy Madelyn Morris Kevin C. Mortimer Yavor Nechev Vanessa O’Connor Amy Pearlman Tim Perla Julia Prochazka Stephen Provazza Joel M. Reck Rian Rosetti Greg Schmidt David Soutter Lu Wang Emily Whelan Lawrence A. Wind Angela Yoon
Guest Post: Janette Ekanem (Greater Boston Legal Services) is a member of the BBA’s 2018-2019 Public Interest Leadership Program.
This past fall, Rahsaan Hall, Director of the Racial Justice Program for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, spoke to the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) about the history of the criminal legal system, (a term he prefers to criminal justice system) and efforts to reform the system within Massachusetts.
In Massachusetts last year, five out of eleven races for district attorney were contested and as a result, reform of the criminal legal system has been at the forefront of voters’ minds. Attorney Hall noted that although police have power, district attorneys are the most powerful people in the criminal legal system because they decide who gets charged with a crime, and they determine how most criminal cases are resolved.
Attorney Hall’s remarks challenged PILP participants to deeply examine the historical roots of the criminal legal system and how the history of the system has continued to further racial disparities. PILP members learned that despite being branded as a liberal state, Massachusetts has some of the worst racial disparities in the criminal legal system when compared to other states in the country.
The need to address these troubling disparities guided the Boston Bar’s own report on criminal justice reform released in the lead-up to the reforms made last session. You can learn more about that report, titled, No Time to Wait, here.
Due to the renewed attention on criminal justice reform in Massachusetts, Attorney Hall urges voters to reframe how they think about the criminal legal system and use their voice for the change that they want to see within the system.
The Boston Bar Association’s M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program, in partnership with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, has been introducing high school students to essential financial concepts for 13 years. Sign-up is now open for the 2019 Financial Literacy sessions in high schools throughout the state. Attorneys and law students from all practice area backgrounds are welcome to participate and make an impact.
Through the program, volunteers sign-up for at least one 1-hour presentation in a classroom in the area. Presentation topics include Personal Finance & Budgeting, Using Credit & Credit Cards, and Financing a Large Purchase. As a volunteer, you’ll be provided with all of the training and materials needed to present to the students and guide them through lesson activities. Join us to educate high school students on the importance of making smart, informed financial decisions.