Manhattan’s newest District Attorney is wasting no time setting the record straight on his office’s priorities.
Just days after officially taking office, Alvin Bragg released a memo outlining a plan with new bail, charging plea and sentencing policies and all the crimes he says his office does not plan to prosecute.
According to CNN, Bragg says the plan will make the city safer and the criminal justice system more fair, though police union leaders are criticizing the plan.
Under Bragg’s plan, marijuana misdemeanors –– including selling more than three ounces, evading public transportation costs, trespassing –– except fourth degree stalking, resisting arrest, prostitution, and certain instances of obstructing governmental administration will not be prosecuted.
For the misdemeanor offenses that typically hand out “desk appearance tickets,” Bragg plans to reroute the consequences to diversion or community-based programs instead. The intent is to help someone who committed the misdemeanor, Bragg said.
The Harlem native also has plans to “reserve pre-trial detention for very serious cases,” and wants to limit the number of underage defendants in adult courts.
“Safety is paramount. New Yorkers deserve to be safe from crime and safe from dangers posed by mass incarceration. We will be tough when we need to be, but we will not be seeking to destroy lives through unnecessary incarceration,” Bragg tweeted.
These policy changes not only will, in and of themselves, make us safer; they also will free up prosecutorial resources to focus on violent crime and bigger cases that make us safer.
— Alvin Bragg (@ManhattanDA) January 5, 2022
“These policy changes not only will, in and of themselves, make us safe; they also free up prosecutorial resources to focus on violent crime,” the memo explains.
“Research is clear that, after a certain length, longer sentences do not deter crime or result in greater community safety,” he said, adding that the office will make greater use of “restorative justice programming” in its work.
Police union leaders said they plan on taking their issues with the plan to Bragg and are mainly concerned that the language of the plan might send the wrong message.
“There are already too many people who believe that they can commit crimes, resist arrest, interfere with police officers and face zero consequences,” PBA president Patrick Lynch said in a statement.