NYC DA Bragg Won’t Even Try to Jail Most Criminals

If the astonishing spike in violent crime over the past two years has gotten your attention, I suspect the recent memo issued by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has too.  In it, Bragg announced drastic reductions in criminal prosecutions and the sentences sought.  Many people have noted the coincidence of the spike in crime with policies to defund the police, curb active policing, restrict cash bail and the like.  Bragg’s policy is more of the same that voters have rejected loudly and clearly.

This past November, in liberal jurisdictions from Washington State to Virginia, voters rejected the nonsensical notion that the police are the primary cause of the violence on our streets.  They seem to be aware that, when the police disappear, the ones who suffer most are the poor and minorities, i.e., the very people leftist elites pretend to care about.  That same drama played out in Bragg’s own New York City where Bill de Blasio’s soft-on-crime administration was pointedly replaced by former cop Eric Adams.  You’d think Bragg would have noticed.  The people of NYC want a safer city, but Bragg’s new policies will do the opposite.

Consider this from his seven-page memo:

The Office will not seek a carceral sentence other than for homicide or other cases involving the death of a victim, a class B violent felony in which a deadly weapon causes serious physical injury, domestic violence felonies, sex offenses in Article 130 of the Penal Law, public corruption, rackets, or major economic crimes, including any attempt to commit any such offense under Article 110 of the Penal Law, unless required by law.

Now, Bragg’s memo has gotten a lot of attention and appears on the DA’s website, so pretty much anyone has access to it, including criminals.  They’ve likely raised a glass to the man elected to prosecute them since they now know they can commit pretty much any type of non-violent crime and have no chance of incarceration.  Car theft?  Check.  Burglary?  Check.  B&E?  Check.  Want to clean out your local bodega?  No problem.  Saks Fifth Avenue?  Ditto.  Even if perps are caught, they won’t go to jail.

Will anyone be caught?  What are the chances that cops would bother to arrest anyone they know will be out on the street in less than a day (remember, no cash bail) and never do a minute behind bars?  We have the answer: 

"Police officers don't want to be sent out to enforce laws that the district attorneys won't prosecute," P[olice]B[enevolent]A[ssociation] president Patrick Lynch said in a statement to CNN.

So, with the police understandably refusing to make pointless arrests and the DA’s office not taking serious crime seriously, who’s going to protect stores and residences?  If you guessed the owners thereof, go to the head of the class.  Who else is there?  Expect a spike in vigilantism to accompany the coming spike in property crimes.

Expect also an utterly twisted narrative to come from the leftist press.  As crime rises due to non-enforcement of the law, property owners will buy guns to protect themselves and their belongings.  The press will then claim that increasing gun sales caused the increase in crime.  I know this because it’s already happening.  Check out this CNN headline from December 12.

Fueled by gun violence, cities across the U.S. are breaking all-time homicide records this year.

Hmm.  Homicide increased almost 30% last year and has risen again in 2021 while gun ownership remained statistically unchanged.  Plus, there’s no correlation between the ups and downs of violent crime over the years and the ups and downs of gun ownership.  (Compare this graph and this one.)  But somehow we’re supposed to believe that gun ownership is responsible for the unprecedented spike in violent crime and that the marginalization of the police is a non-factor.  Amazing, but true.

And, speaking of CNN and its dodgy notion of honest reporting, here’s how it reported Bragg’s memo:

Just days after taking office, Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg released a memo detailing new charging, bail, plea and sentencing policies that he said he believes will make the city safer and the criminal justice system more fair, yet the plan faces criticism from police union leaders.

Among the crimes Bragg said his office would not prosecute: marijuana misdemeanors, including selling more than three ounces; not paying public transportation fare; trespassing except a fourth degree stalking charge, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration in certain cases, and prostitution.

Yes, in an article of about 600 words, not one of them suggested that the crimes to which the DA is turning a blind eye are anything but pot possession, prostitution and the like.  CNN managed to completely ignore the most important part of Bragg’s memo that I quoted above.  It takes truly dogged dishonesty to so frankly misrepresent the DA’s new policy.

Others are more candid.

Gubernatorial hopefuls slammed new Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s controversial policy of not prosecuting certain low-level crimes while downgrading other charges, with some calling for his removal.

“Bragg can’t pick and choose what laws not to enforce. You can’t say, ‘I’m not going to enforce the law,’” said Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi, a Democrat challenging Gov. Kathy Hochul in the Democratic primary, told The Post.

Republican candidates are calling for Bragg to be removed from office, as he should be.  District Attorneys and their assistants have discretion about which crimes to charge and punishments to seek, but whole categories of offenses, defined by the state legislature as such, cannot be swept aside.  To do so is to violate the DA’s oath of office.

Now, I take a backseat to no one in my condemnation of prosecutors who too often overcharge offenses, bringing in handfuls of indictments for a single act.  Plus, the impunity with which ADAs act, commonly ignoring the law on disclosure of exculpatory evidence and all but entirely immune from bar discipline and civil liability needs to change.  Reform of the prosecutorial system and prosecutors’ practices is necessary and long overdue.

But refusing to enforce broad swaths of criminal law isn’t reform, it’s dereliction of duty.  Bragg needs to withdraw his memo and commit to vigorous and principled prosecution of crime, or resign and allow someone to do the job who will.

 

 

 

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