Additionally, our successful efforts to establish a statewide Witness Protection Program to push back against fear and intimidation; the implementation of a Special Grand Jury, unique in Massachusetts, for homicides and gang-related shootings; the creation of the Gun Court that Bernstein himself acknowledges had a role in the decrease in non-fatal shootings this year and last; and the unprecedented reduction of a 1500-case Superior Court backlog to a number about half that, all came about under my administration and from an office which, I must point out, is by far the lowest-budgeted public safety agency in the Boston area.
Finally, Bernstein’s comparison of the 1998–2002 and 2002–2007 homicide dispositions is suspect at best. The fact is that the Suffolk County homicide conviction rate between 2002 and 2007 is higher than at any period in recent memory and remains well above most jurisdictions across the country, and both the author and his editors are well aware of this fact. The comparison — like the article it accompanied — is the product of an agenda at odds with the truth.
Bernstein’s intentional misrepresentation of the facts is appalling, and his editors’ indulgence in anonymous quotes and unsubstantiated race-baiting defies every journalistic principle. The end result amounts to indefensible slander against some of the hardest working public servants in the Commonwealth, and the Phoenix should be ashamed.
Daniel F. Conley
Suffolk County District Attorney
Having worked for both Dan Conley and his predecessor, Ralph Martin, I can assure you that Conley is personally invested in making our communities safer, and has introduced several new initiatives that do just that.
However, David S. Bernstein’s article seems to undermine Conley’s accomplishments. Namely, Bernstein points out that current arrest and prosecution rates in Boston and other cities are slightly below those of comparably violent periods in the recent past. But his reporting does not weigh the factors that account for the difference. Here are some of them:
You can’t prosecute without evidence, and witnesses are increasingly reluctant to come forward because the culture of violence — which has plagued all recent administrations — quickly engulfs them. What’s more, jurors who are partial to the accused have been able to insinuate themselves onto jury panels, pressuring and threatening fellow jurors in order to get an acquittal. However, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office is energetically countering this trend by conducting criminal background checks on jury members, and the results so far have been encouraging.
As for the high administration costs that Bernstein mentions, I noticed he did not compare current salaries with those in the previous administration. If he had, he would not have found much difference. Many administrative staff members earning top salaries have been with the office for more than 20 years, some even 30. They are entrusted with huge responsibilities, work long hours and weekends, and earn every penny.
I was also surprised by Bernstein’s impression that women and minorities do not have the same career opportunities as white males in this office. On the contrary, there are more women and minorities in staff-attorney positions than ever before, and the diversity initiative, which is a priority for Conley, is gaining momentum.