Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg described his plans to curb crime by connecting multiple offenders with resources, such as counseling, lowering prison sentences, and reinvesting in the community.
“We said we were going to marry fairness and safety, and we laid out a specific plan,” Bragg said in a speech at the National Action Network Rally in New York. “We put it on the website. We put it in print. And this week, after Jan. 1, we got down to work, and we are doing what we said we would do.
“We know that our first civil right is the right to walk safely to our corner store, but we also know that safety has got to be based in our community and fairness. It cannot be driven solely by incarceration.”
Lowering incarceration rates and shortening prison sentences are crucial parts of Bragg’s message.
“We need investment in our neighborhoods, and we do need to address our significant safety concerns,” Bragg said. “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.”
On his third day in office, Bragg sent out a memo emphasizing “diversion and alternatives to incarceration,” such as crisis intervention instead of sending one to jail.
Bragg also made reference to the previous administration and how crime is currently skyrocketing in New York.
“Gun crime is on the rise,” Bragg said. “Domestic violence is on the rise. We’ve got sexual assault. That’s what was going on with the status quo. So we know we need a change to address that.
“And the way to do that is partner with traditional public safety methods, is to invest in our communities. Racial disparity’s rife in our system. We criminalize poverty every day of the week.”
The DA also said, for multiple-time offenders or those struggling with mental health, crisis intervention or some type of counseling service could supplant longer sentencing, adding “this is going to make us safer.
“It’s intuitive. It’s common sense. I don’t understand the pushback.”
“I’ve had a semi-automatic weapon pointed at my head,” he added. “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. 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.'”
Bragg reportedly is seeking reduced sentences for stealing from stores and drug dealing – and vows to not prosecute for resisting arrest or trespass offenses.