By G. Michael Dobbs|
HOLYOKE – Attorney Shawn Allyn has never been a prosecutor, but he believes “the time is right for me.”
Allyn is running for Hampden County District Attorney and believes that his courtroom career matched with his many years as social worker gives him “unmatched experience.”
Allen is a Holyoke native and a graduate of Westfield State University where he earned two bachelor degrees – one in political science and another in criminal justice. He then graduated from the Western New England University School of Law and became an attorney in 1999. He has also been a social worker in the Department of Children and Familes.
As an example of how the two disciplines would work together is Allyn’s approach to attacking the heroin problem in the region. He said that addicts need access to treatment.
At the same time, guns, which play a huge role in the area’s heroin trade, have “the most pervasive effect on a community.”
Allyn called gun buyback programs a “band aid” and has proposed the use of a state law that allows the district attorney to request a detention hearing for all criminal offenders arrested with an illegal gun.
This move would allow the district attorney to have the offender classified as a “dangerous person” and be jailed throughout the trial without the right to bail.
Allyn said he has the support of Holyoke Police Chief James Neiswanger for this plan and admitted that some people might find it too “hard line.”
Discussing the heroin issue more, Allyn said he would work to build a coalition and taskforce between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and law enforcement officials in Vermont to address the problem.
He sees the district attorney having to “strike a balance” between being the courtroom prosecuting cases and running the office. One murder case, he noted, can take 18 months to complete. As district attorney he would recruit a staff and change “the vision of the office,” something he readily admitted might take two to three years to accomplish.
Allyn said the district attorney must also have a presence on Beacon Hill and be willing to lobby for funds in Washington D.C. He sees hiring a grant writer to help secure resources for the office.
One issue for which he would advocate is a new courthouse as the present one has a “most unhealthy environment.”
He does not believe his lack of prosecutorial experience is a handicap in the race and noted that longtime former District Attorney William Bennett had not served as a prosecutor before taking office.
As a criminal defense attorney, he contended, “It’s easier to prosecute them than defend them as the government has the resources.”
He added, “The key thing is do [a potential district attorney] have trial experience – taking cases to verdict.”
Allyn said, “It’s the district attorney’s job to hold people accountable when they cross the line.”
For more information on his candidacy, go to shawnallynforda.com.
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