(1) Cracking Cold Cases and the Importance of Small Tasks

This summer I have privilege of working as an undergraduate intern for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office (MDAO), which serves the largest county in New England. The MDAO works to protect and serve those living in this area. The office engages in investigations, prosecution, and victim advocacy, as well as crime prevention, in order to create a safer county. Part of the reason I was passionate about interning for this specific office is because the work of the MDAO goes beyond prosecution; they work daily to address issues such as domestic violence and elder safety.

As an aspiring lawyer who is passionate about understanding the criminal justice system, I chose this particular field with the hopes of gaining firsthand experience in the realm of government and law, specifically in terms of crime prevention and how the criminal justice system functions. I am lucky enough to say that after my first month with the office, I already feel that I am on my way to achieving this educational goal. Part of the reason I feel I have already learned so much is because of the weekly intern trainings put on by the office. I have attended many of these sessions over the past month, including ones focused on juvenile court, diversion, and legal writing. At each of these sessions, different members of the office–including many Assistant District Attorneys–speak to us about their journey and their work. These sessions have already given me the glimpse into the everyday workings of the criminal justice system that I was looking for.

My work set up!

The MDAO works to combat multiple forms of social injustice, which, as a minority myself, is very important to me. One of the main forms of social injustice that the office addresses is racism, specifically racism within the criminal justice system. Throughout the past month, I have learned about many of the organization’s strategies for addressing racism, one of the best being office-wide trainings on the subject. As an intern, I have had the privilege of participating in two of these trainings, which have further opened my eyes to how racism penetrates the everyday workplace–specifically the criminal justice system.

As an undergraduate intern for the MDAO, I have been placed in the cold case unit. The cold case unit was developed in 2019 by current District Attorney Marian Ryan and works to re-examine uncharged cases across Middlesex County. I am currently responsible for digitizing decades-old cold cases. While this project may seem minuscule, after working on it for a month, I understand why it is so important. Without the digitization of these unsolved cases, the office cannot utilize new technologies to re-examine cases, which is critical to providing answers. Once my project is complete, the office will be able to re-investigate these cases in new ways and hopefully have the same level of success as they did in January 2019 when they solved the 50-year-old murder of a Harvard graduate student. I feel honored to have a part in working to bring justice to these families who still do not have clear answers about what happened to their loved ones.

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