Why Marian has the Experience to Lead
District Attorney Ryan, Massachusetts’ only female District Attorney, represents the state’s largest county which is comprised of 54 towns and cities and 26 colleges and universities spread across urban, suburban and rural areas. Middlesex County is home to over one quarter of the state’s population.
A UNIQUE AND PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE
Marian’s own life experience has given her a deep and broad understanding of law enforcement, victimization, and the judicial system. In 1980, Marian was a young Assistant District Attorney, just starting her career as a prosecutor, when she was the victim of a vicious assault and a witness to the murder of her then-boyfriend. Through this experience, she learned first-hand about the impact and significance of violent crime and of criminal prosecution. Marian gained insight into the importance of an exhaustive and unassailable investigation, supportive victim advocacy, a fair trial, and a just and incontrovertible verdict. The experience strengthened her resolve as she developed into a strong, empathetic and judicious prosecutor.
CONFRONTING THE OPIOID CRISIS
Since 2013, District Attorney Ryan has taken a multipronged approach to the opioid epidemic. The three Middlesex hospital based Opioid Task Forces bring together representatives from law enforcement, healthcare, emergency medical services, social services, child welfare, schools, and government. This collaborative approach resulted in 2017 in an 11.5% decline in fatal opioid overdoses countywide and a 21% decline in those deaths in Lowell, the area hardest hit by the epidemic.
Marian has led the Task Force in devising community-specific needs and solutions. Attentive to the risk that young women are at for addiction, the Task Force has worked collaboratively on intervention and care efforts for maternal substance use disorder and substance exposed newborns. Mindful of the far-reaching impacts on families and communities, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office partnered with the Lowell Police Department, the Lowell Fire Department, Trinity EMS, and the Mental Health Association of Greater Lowell in 2016 to launch Project C.A.R.E. These partner agencies are trained to activate a rapid response intervention in the increasingly common scenario when a child is present will be affected when they respond to a fatal or near-fatal overdose. A clinician crafts a plan for emergency trauma services for the child within 48 hours of the overdose and, as necessary, reaches out to Department of Children and Families, the school, and other family members to ensure coordinated care.
Representing an increasingly diverse county, with close to 20 percent of the population foreign-born, Marian is acutely aware of the unique needs of immigrant communities. Working with 28 public, nonprofit and private agencies, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office established a Refugee and Immigrant Support Coalition in Lowell. Conscious of the distrust and fear of police and government officials which some immigrants may have, Marian has helped forge unique partnerships to empower them. The District Attorney’s Office’s RIGHTs (Reaching Immigrants, Gaining Trust) Project, partners with ESL tutors to train them to raise awareness with their students around issues of domestic abuse, sexual violence, and human trafficking and to connect them with the proper resources.
PROTECTING OUR SENIORS
Marian served for many years as the Chief of the District Attorney’s Office’s Elder and Disabled Unit, where she prosecuted crimes involving physical and financial abuse of some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable victims. In her current role as DA, Marian has worked to find innovative methods for reaching her aging population and protecting them from all forms of abuse. She regularly visits Councils on Aging and Senior Centers to provide tips for protection from scams, cyberfraud and increasingly from issues associated with the opioid epidemic, such as the recognizing the signs of substance misuse in family members and safe storage and protection of their medication. Marian has also created a resource program for grandparents raising grandchildren affected by the epidemic.
SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES
Marian has been a constant presence in Middlesex County’s public and private schools, where she lectures and leads workshops to raise awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse, teen dating violence, sexual assaults, cyber safety, bullying and distracted driving. She offers an annual Empowering Girls program for middle and high school girls which draws over 400 girls from across the county. Marian has developed Boy Scout Merit badge clinics on crime prevention, forensics, railroad safety and other topics. She regularly presents to parent groups on these issues as well as Social Host liability. Responsible for the safety of not only the close to 250,000 children who attend elementary and high school in the county but for the thousands of students who come from around the globe to attend Middlesex’s 26 colleges and universities, Marian has also developed a college consortium for educators, administrators and campus police, focused on campus safety and security.
WORKPLACE SAFETY INITIATIVES
Prior to being named District Attorney, Ryan served as the MDAO’s General Counsel, where she created the county-wide Workplace Safety and Violence Prevention Program. Ryan draws upon Middlesex County’s rich and varied resources in academia, scientific research and medical facilities, to train public and private employers to formulate strategies, make threat assessments, and address and prevent potentially volatile situations in the workplace.
SAFETY AT HOME
Marian has been a leader in domestic violence prevention and prosecution. She has conducted trainings for prosecutors, police officers and service providers to help them confront the unique challenges posed by domestic violence. She brought to Middlesex County the “Cut it Out” a program, designed to educate salon professionals and personal care providers to recognize signs of domestic abuse in their clients. She created the Safe Babies/Safe Kids Task Force and is a frequent presenter around the county on Safety Programs.