Eric Shawn: Do the crime, don’t get the time
New Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg won’t send criminals to jail anymore for a variety of offenses.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is considered the premier local law enforcement job in the nation.
It was the home of the legendary mob-busting Thomas E. Dewey, who was a Republican candidate for president twice.
Two iconic DAs followed him: Frank Hogan served for 32 years and Robert Morgenthau for even longer, 35 years.
Alvin Bragg stumping for Manhattan DA on Nov. 1, 2021, in New York City.
(Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
And the office is the fictionalized location for the decades-long popular television series “Law and Order.”
But in real life, the new district attorney, progressive Democrat Alvin Bragg Jr., is accused of abandoning law and bringing disorder to the halls of justice in his third day on the job.
In a stunning reversal of traditional law enforcement procedures, Bragg sent a memo stressing “diversion and alternatives to incarceration,” in pursuing prosecutions … by not sending criminals to jail. The no-jail time exceptions are murder, a crime that involves someone’s death, or a felony. And several serious crimes, like armed robbery, are being reduced to misdemeanors, which could mean dangerous thugs will end up back on the streets without seeing the inside of a jail cell.
And even if you murder someone, Bragg says his office will limit sentences to 20 years. He is refusing to seek the state-mandated “life without parole” for murderers, which would include terrorists, cop killers and even serial killers.
Elderly woman attacked on NYC street.
“He’s paving the way for an even bigger bloodbath than what we have seen in New York City already,” says Jennifer Harrison, head of the crime victims advocacy group, Victims Rights NY.
“It’s going to be deadly,” she predicts. “Not prosecuting crime and standing with socialists, advocating to release more violent criminals with blanket release mandates, when murder rates are up, what, 45% over the past two years … is not the message that we want to be sending.”
“We don’t want to say to criminals, ‘come to New York, you know where you can have your way with us’ and tell families that they’re not safe here”
Bragg says he is seeking “goals of safety and fairness,” by focusing on “accountability, not sentence length” and claims that his reforms “will make us safer.”
He also wants a defendant’s race to be considered.
Bragg’s office will largely no longer prosecute some trespass offenses, the charge of resisting arrest, fare beating and sex work. Besides armed robbery, he is also reducing charges for stealing from stores or from home storage areas, and drug dealing.
When he ran for the office, Bragg also promised not to charge shoplifters for stealing stuff worth less than $250. Shoplifting has become so out-of-control in Manhattan that stores lock their items behind plastic protectors on shelves. This reporter recently witnessed two brazen shoplifters steal items at one neighborhood drug store within the same week. The clerks yelled at both defiant offenders as they swaggered out the front door, one stealing three cartons of White Claw and the other shoplifting a huge over-the-shoulder bag stuffed with various cosmetic items. The clerks told me that it happens “all the time.”
NYPD officer assaulted in December drugstore ambush
“These policies … reflect both the need for fundamental reforms in the criminal legal system and the need for community safety,” Bragg said in a statement.
“The two goals of justice and safety are not opposed to each other. They are inextricably linked. We deserve and demand both, and that has been the focus of my career, and indeed, my life.”
New York’s law enforcement unions are outraged
“The Manhattan DA basically told criminals in his borough to continue to commit crimes, and they WILL NOT be prosecuted,” said the NYPD Captains Endowment Association.
“There are already too many people who believe that they can commit crimes, resist arrest, interfere with police officers and face zero consequences,” says Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch.
“Bragg gives criminals the roadmap to freedom from prosecution and control of our streets”
“In Bragg’s Manhattan, you can resist arrest, deal drugs, obstruct arrests, and even carry a gun and get away with it,” says the head of the NYPD Detectives’ Endowment Association, Paul DiGiacomo.
Harrison, of Victims Rights NY, says the group will seek to start impeachment proceedings against Bragg if his “dereliction of duty results in one innocent person’s death.”
Jennifer knows the pain of murder, first hand. Her boyfriend, Kevin Davis, was stabbed to death in 2005, allegedly by a parolee.
She says Bragg is sending the wrong message to murderers, muggers and thieves.
“You can do what you want and get away with it. There are no consequences for your actions, except for the life sentences that you handed down to victims like me that have to deal with unbearable pain, grief and trauma from losing a loved one.”
She has a message for the district attorney.
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“Start using common sense in these reforms and stop issuing blanket release mandates that are a detriment to society, and start including victims as well.”
Ben Evansky contributed to this report.
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