Manhattan DA: ‘I don’t understand the pushback’ to lighter punishment for violent criminals

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Alvin Bragg promises to ‘marry fairness and safety.’


Facts

Manhattan District Attorney (DA) Alvin Bragg appeared with Rev. Al Sharpton Saturday at the National Action Network Rally in New York to discuss his plans to reduce incarceration through lowered prison sentences and fewer arrests.

The new DA has made lowering incarceration and shortening prison sentences a key component of his political campaign.

“We need investment in our neighborhoods, and we do need to address our significant safety concerns,” Bragg added, claiming that there has been a miscommunication about his position. “So that’s what we set out to do. That’s what we started to do this week. And I thank Rev. Sharpton for his invitation because there have been, let me just say, some misunderstandings.”

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Bragg has announced that he will not seek jail time for various offenses, following a path of other progressive prosecutors in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, among others.

On his third day in office, Bragg sent a memo stressing “diversion and alternatives to incarceration,” such as crisis intervention programs, instead of sending some criminals to jail.

Bragg acknowledged in his speech to Sharpton’s audience that crime – including violent crime – is skyrocketing in the city. 

Bragg’s office will largely no longer prosecute trespass offenses, resisting arrest, subway and bus fare-dodging, and sex work. He is also reducing charges for stealing from stores or home storage areas and drug dealing.

Details

During the conversation with Rev. Sharpton, Bragg expressed confusion at the pushback his lesser-sentencing plan has received from the public, saying, “This is going to make us safer. It’s intuitive. It’s common sense. I don’t understand the pushback.”

Bragg tried to lean on his own experiences with crime as proof of his authenticity, recounting being threatened with a gun and walking into a crime scene.

“I’ve had a semi-automatic weapon pointed at my head. I’ve been shot at. And just late last year, I had walked to a crime scene with more than 20 shell casings on the ground with my two young children just to get home,” Bragg told the audience Saturday. “So don’t tell me about guns. I know about guns, and I know from my work to you all day.”

“I’m new to politics, but I’m steadfast. We’re going to stay the course. As the Good Book says, ‘We’re going to keep fighting the good fight.”

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell pushed back at DA Alvin Bragg Jr.’s memo strongly fighting crime. Criticizing his new prosecution policies caused her to be “very concerned” about the safety of cops and the public, as well as crime victims.

Sewell directed all 35,000 NYPD officers to keep detailed records of arrest information even if they are asked to sign criminal court complaints that do not reflect all of the arrest charges.

The issue of criminal complaints first arose immediately Friday, when cops arrested a shoplifting suspect on Sixth Avenue, who brandished a pair of garden shears and threatened and pushed a store security guard, according to law enforcement officers.

The arresting officer refused to sign the petit larceny affidavit because it omitted the suspect displaying shears, a fact that could make the offense a robbery felony.

NYPD data illustrated that shoplifting incidents which escalated to robberies in Manhattan have increased over the years, with retail thefts in the borough hitting an all-time high in 2021

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