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New Manhattan DA says he won't prosecute certain crimes

The offenses that no longer will be prosecuted include marijuana misdemeanors, prostitution, resisting arrest, fare dodging and trespassing

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg speaks to media after meeting with activists in East Harlem
Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg speaks to media after meeting with activists in East Harlem | Shutterstock

January 6, 2022 7:44pm

Updated: January 6, 2022 7:44pm

Just days after taking office, Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg released a memo detailing how his administration is downgrading charges for many felonies and will seek prison sentences for only a handful of crimes – a move he believes will make the city safer and the criminal justice system more fair.

Bragg, a Democrat who was elected in November, outlined the changes in a “Day One Letter,” saying they were “effective immediately,” CNN reported.

“The Office will not prosecute the following charges, unless as part of an accusatory instrument containing at least one felony count,” the letter read.

The offenses that no longer will be prosecuted include marijuana misdemeanors, prostitution, resisting arrest, fare dodging and trespassing.

Bragg also noted his office would “not seek a carceral sentence” except for homicides, violent felonies, domestic violence, some sex offenses, public corruption, rackets and major economic crimes.

“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 read.

Bragg also instructed prosecutors to “use their judgment and experience to evaluate the person arrested, and identify people: who suffer from mental illness; who are unhoused; who commit crimes of poverty; or who suffer from substance use disorders.”

Bragg’s memo also instructed prosecutors to reduce charges filed by police in serious felony cases. According to the New York Post, “Armed robbers who use guns or other deadly weapons to stick up stores and other businesses will be prosecuted only for petty larceny, a misdemeanor, provided no victims were seriously injured and there’s no 'genuine risk of physical harm' to anyone.” 

But as the new district attorney implements these changes, New York City continues to suffer from a surge in crime.

Recent NYPD data shows that crime has not gone down in recent months. Overall, index crime rose by 11.2 percent in October 2021 when compared to last year. Although murders decreased slightly, the total number of gun arrests increased by 13.9 percent.

The New York Police Department reported an even bigger jump in November, noting that “overall index crime in New York City increased by 21.3% in November 2021, compared with November 2020 (10,186 v. 8,396).”

Overall, the city has seen homicides increase about 50 percent and shootings double since 2019, the Daily Mail reported.

But many police officers are not happy with the new DA’s reforms.

“Bragg gives criminals the roadmap to freedom from prosecution and control of our streets,” Paul DiGiacomo, the head of the NYPD Detectives’ Endowment Association, told the New York Post.

Patrick Lynch, president of the NYPD’s largest union, also voiced “serious concerns about the message these types of policies send to both police officers and criminals on the street.”

“Police officers don’t want to be sent out to enforce laws that the district attorneys won’t prosecute,” Lynch said. “And there are already too many people who believe that they can commit crimes, resist arrest, interfere with police officers and face zero consequences.”