Anti-Crime Council: Color Me Skeptical

Deval Patrick announced his Anti-Crime Council yesterday, which he will chair, and which will meet monthly to discuss gun and gang violence. I'd prefer the name reflect that purpose more accurately -- crime per se is well under control in the state -- but the idea is solid.

Unfortunately, this looks like one of those committees designed to look impressive and accomplish little or nothing.

The 28-person group is heavy with governmental voices, primarily representing cops and prosecutors:
--Patrick’s heads of public safety, health and human services, state police, parole board, correction, youth services, social services, public health, and probation; plus Patrick's chief legal counsel.
--Four legislators, who are the house and senate chairs of judiciary and public safety.
--AG Martha Coakley.
--Heads of the associations representing the state's district attorneys, chiefs of police, major-cities police chiefs, sheriffs, and city administrators (Mass. Municipal Ass'c).

That leaves eight draft choices. They are:
--Janet Fine of the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance.
--William Leahy of the Committee for Public Counsel Services.
--Lee Gartenberg, chair of the Mass Bar Ass'c's Criminal-Justice Section.
--Georgianna Melendez of Casa Myrna Vazquez in Boston.
--Rev. Howard-John Wesley of Springfield.
--Victor Ascolillo, criminal-justice professor.
--Worcester police chief Gary Gemme.
--Michael Ricciuti, co-chair of the Boston Bar Ass’c’s Criminal-Justice Section.

Four of these are essentially more voices from the cops-and-prosecutors side: Fine’s office is an outreach of the state’s prosecutors; Gemme is another cop, albeit a good one; Gartenberg has worked for the Middlesex Sheriff’s office for 25 years; and Ricciuti was an assistant AG and worked for Justice before that. Three of the others don’t strike me as experts on the subject: Melendez (who is terrific) specializes in domestic violence; Ascolillo specializes in homeland security; and Wesley is a raging homophobic who has blamed teen violence on the breakdown of morals in our society.

Leahy is the sole voice for the criminal defense community. There is nobody from the schools, courts, community centers, neighborhood associations, tenants’ associations, immigrant groups, and on and on. There is also no representative of the federal government, which is baffling -- I criticize our US Attorney’s office as much as anybody, but they have to be at the table, along with the local DEA and ATF.

Perhaps the Governor will prove me wrong, but color me skeptical on this effort.

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