Manhattan’s new liberal district attorney sent guidance to his staff this week saying he does not intend to prosecute several offenses, suggesting that “decriminalization” will help “make us safer,” according to reports.
Alvin Bragg, who was sworn in as Manhattan district attorney on January 1, sent a memo to his office on Monday calling for the “decriminalization/non prosecution” of crimes including marijuana possession, turnstile jumping, trespassing, resisting arrest, interfering with an arrest and prostitution.
The guidance calls for downgrading felony charges in cases including armed robberies and drug dealing.
The memo says the office will “not seek carceral sentence other than for homicide” or “class B violent felony in which a deadly weapon causes serious injury, domestic violence felonies” with few exceptions.
“This rule may be excepted only in extraordinary circumstances based on a holistic analysis of the facts, criminal history, victim’s input (particularly in cases of violence or trauma), and any other information available,” the memo reads.
Bragg suggested that “reserving incarceration for matters involving significant harm will make us safer.”
The office also does not plan to seek any sentences of life without parole, regardless of how heinous a crime is, and will only recommend pretrial detention in “very serious cases.”
“The data show that the overwhelming majority of those released pretrial do not commit a violent crime while at liberty,” the memo says. “Two studies show that even three days in jail can lead to a loss of housing, employment and strain family connections and increase the likelihood failure to appear in court.”
The move comes as the number of murders, robberies, felony assaults, burglaries, grand larcenies and grand larceny auto thefts surpassed 100,000 for the first time since 2016, according to data from the New York Police Department.
The New York Police Benevolent Association expressed “serious concerns” about the plan in a tweet on Tuesday.
PBA Statement on Manhattan District Attorney Policy Memo pic.twitter.com/ujydGCy62M
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) January 4, 2022
Meanwhile, moderate Democrat Eric Adams, who was sworn in as mayor on January 1, has advocated for a tough on crime stance and recently vowed that criminals will “not bring violence to this city.”
Adams said during a press conference Tuesday that he had not seen the memo nor communicated with Bragg.