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Talk about taking woke to the next level, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg issued a sweeping policy memo on Monday after being sworn in, announcing that his office will not prosecute a wide array of crimes and will only seek prison sentences for some offenses — murder still being one, at least for now. In addition, Manhattan’s first black district attorney will seek to downgrade or dismiss charges for many felony crimes, including armed robberies and drug dealing.
All under the guise that it will ultimately make New York City safer. Unfortunately, for those looking to newly appointed Mayor Eric Adams to clean up the city, as he has vowed to do, the former NYPD caption appears to be embracing Bragg’s efforts.
Offenses like subway fare evasion, resisting arrest (unless the resisting happens in the commission of a crime not on Bragg’s exempt list) and prostitution are among the crimes Bragg’s office will not pursue, essentially legalizing the actions. Additionally, the memo includes “any violation, traffic infraction, or other non-criminal offense not accompanied by a misdemeanor or felony.”
The policy memo even claims victims of crime are onboard with the “use of restorative justice.”
“Research is clear that, after a certain length, longer sentences do not deter crime or result in greater community safety. Further, because survivors and victims of crime often want more than the binary choice between incarceration and no incarceration, we will expand our use of restorative justice programming,” the memo reads.
“The directive comes despite New York City seeing a surge in violent crime,” the Daily Mail reported. “City-wide, crime statistics published in December by the NYPD show that shootings, murders and auto grand larceny have all nearly doubled while murder is up 50 percent in the city compared to 2019.”
The New York Police Benevolent Association released a statement online expressing serious concern about the plan.
“We continue to have serious concerns about the message these types of policies send to both police officers and criminals on the street,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said. “Police officers don’t want to be sent out to enforce laws that the district attorneys won’t prosecute. And there are already too many people who believe that they can commit crimes, resist arrest, interfere with police officers and face zero consequences.”
PBA Statement on Manhattan District Attorney Policy Memo pic.twitter.com/ujydGCy62M
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) January 4, 2022
The memo states that research also “shows that brain development continues until up to age 25,” adding that “youth are physiologically subject to more impulsive behavior, and are still capable of growth and maturation.”
The memo proclaims that holding young criminals accountable is ineffective: “Prosecuting youth in our adult criminal court system can lead to recidivism, making neighborhoods less safe.”
Saying, “I like Alvin,” Mayor Adams expressed support for Bragg’s new polices at a Tuesday press conference, according to the British tabloid.
“I believe that he’s going to be a good district attorney, and I’m going to sit down and have a conversation with him as we build out what we need to do around public safety,” Adams said.
“I think he’s on Team Public Safety,” the new mayor added. “Team Public Safety is not only handcuffs, Team Public Safety is also ending the pipeline that turns people into career criminals.”
Bragg opened his policy memo with his own personal history with crime in NYC:
“Growing up in Harlem in the 1980s, I saw every side of the criminal justice system from a young age. Before I was 21 years old, I had a gun pointed at me six times: three by police officers and three by people who were not police officers. I had a knife to my neck, a semi-automatic gun to my head, and a homicide victim on my doorstep. In my adult life, I have posted bail for family, answered the knock of the warrant squad on my door in the early morning, and watched the challenges of a loved one who was living with me after returning from incarceration. Late last year, during a stretch of multiple shootings within three blocks of my home, I had perhaps the most sobering experience of my life: seeing ––through the eyes of my children–– the aftermath of a shooting directly in front of our home, as we walked together past yellow crime scene tape, seemingly countless shell casings, and a gun, just to get home.
“In large part because of these experiences, I have dedicated my career to the inextricably linked goals of safety and fairness. This memo sets out charging, bail, plea, and sentencing policies that will advance both goals. Data, and my personal experiences, show that reserving incarceration for matters involving significant harm will make us safer.”
New York City jails were already little more than turnstiles amid the criminal justice restoration policies enacted under former Mayor Bill de Blasio, where cash bail was all but eliminated in many circumstances. Adding to the fiasco, prosecutors under Bragg have reportedly been told not to seek bail requirements for suspects awaiting trial, with the policy memo claiming “the overwhelming majority of those released pretrial do not commit a violent crime while at liberty.”
The disconnect being that the current crime surge is a byproduct of the progressive policies already in place — crime is up in almost every major category in 2021, according to NYPD data.
Here’s more from the Daily Mail on charges that will be downgraded:
“Robbers wielding guns or other deadly weapons to steal from stores and businesses will be prosecuted only for petty larceny – a misdemeanor – provided no victims were injured and there is no ‘genuine risk of physical harm.’ Armed robbery is a class B felony, usually punishable by up to 25 years in jail.
“Burglars who loot residential storage areas, parts of homes that are not ‘accessible to a living area’ and businesses located in mixed-use buildings, will be prosecuted for a minor class D felony, where they would normally face class B and class C charges punishable by up to 25 and 15 years in prison respectively.
“Drug dealers suspected of ‘acting as a low-level agent of a seller’ will only be charged with misdemeanor possession.”
Meanwhile, Bragg inherited the investigation into Donald Trump and his business from his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr, and told CNN last month that it’s “a consequential case, one that merits the attention of the D.A. personally.”
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