So far the race for Suffolk County District Attorney will be between one candidate who supports many of former DA Rachael Rollin’s reforms and another who is more moderate and was appointed as interim DA by Republican Governor Charlie Baker.
Last week, Boston City Councilor of Hyde Park announced his bid for the DA’s seat, which was followed a few days later by acting DA Kevin Hayden.
At a press conference in Hyde Park last week Arroyo pledged to continue the reforms started by Rollins.
Arroyo, the son of former City Councilor Felix Arroyo, served a public defender before being elected to the City Council in 2019, said he will, “Build a justice system that protects the safety and dignity of all people…One that will maintain the successful reforms that have proven to improve the safety of communities across Suffolk County.”
It was his work as a public defender that Arroyo said gave him perspective of the inequities of the justice system. As a public defender Arroyo has said he saw firsthand how the lack of opportunity, inequity, and the marginalization of individuals ravaged lives.
“Former District Attorney Rachael Rollins led the way by bringing much-needed reforms to the office,” said Arroyo at the press conference. “We cannot afford to go backward or stagnate. We must continue these reforms that have been proven to work and continue to move Suffolk County forward.”
Before leaving the DA’s Office to serve as the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, Rollin focused on pregressive criminal justice reform in Suffolk County and developed a controversial policy of not prosecuting certain nonviolent low-level crimes.
Arroyo attended Boston Public Schools, holds a B.A. in History from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and a J.D. from Loyola University Chicago.
Hayden, a Roslindale resident who was appointed by Gov. Baker to complete Rollins’ term, announced his candidacy a few days after Arroyo’s press conference.
At his announcement in front of the Boys & Girls Club in Dorchester Hayden pledged a commitment to public safety, criminal legal system reform, and accountability to the communities of Boston, Revere, Chelsea and Winthrop.
Hayden, who was appointed to the office in January, outlined numerous areas of focus moving forward, including gun crimes, community collaboration and engagement, diversion and intervention programs, human trafficking and domestic violence.
“I pledge today to reform how the district attorney approaches its full mission of serving the community and ensuring public safety,” said Hayden. “Our attention on reform is vital, but the results that produce real transformation are what really matters. We’ve seen over the last few years a national demand for criminal legal system reform. As a black man, I welcome this focus because it is long overdue. I know full well that it’s long overdue because I’ve been practicing these concepts and approaches to reform throughout my entire career.”
Hayden added his experience as a prosecutor, an attorney in private practice, and head of the state Sex Offender Registry Board has given him the perspective necessary to ensure public safety while seeking alternatives to prosecution in appropriate cases.
“I was never a traditional prosecutor,” he said. “As head of the Safe Neighborhood Initiative, I embraced intensive community engagement and expanded crime intervention and prevention to new limits. I dedicated myself to support services and ministry to returning citizens from incarceration more than any ADA before me. As a juvenile prosecutor I led efforts focused on innovative diversion and prevention methods. In short, I will approach the task of reform with a proven track record of dedication to it. I have labored long and hard in that vineyard. I’m confident that we can change our approach to criminal justice. But public safety and full equity in our system are not mutually exclusive. We must be ever mindful of public safety as we endeavor for a better and more equitable system. All our communities demand our dedication to both.”
Before his appointment Hayden headed the state Sex Offender Registry Board. Prior to that, he spent five years in private practice, specializing in criminal defense. He began his career in the Suffolk DA’s office, serving in the anti-gang and juvenile units and on the homicide response team. He headed the office’s Safe Neighborhood Initiative, a community-focused public safety program.
Hayden graduated from Dartmouth College and Boston University Law School and serves as a deacon at Jubilee Christian Church in Mattapan.