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Alvin Bragg

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He has described his decision to become a prosecutor as a product, in large measure, of his own personal experiences with the city’s criminal-justice system — most notably three occasions when he was allegedly the victim of what he calls “unconstitutional” gunpoint stops by NYPD officers.


* Served as Chief Deputy Attorney General from 2017-2018 * Running for the Manhattan D.A. in 2019, he proclaimed, “I’ll work to make the office the progressive leader it should be” and won in 2021 with over 83% of the vote * In January 2022, he appeared at a National Action Network rally alongside activist Al Sharpton * During Bragg’s first full month as D.A., which was also Eric Adams‘ first full month as mayor, crime rates in New York City soared



Background


Alvin Leonard Bragg Jr. was born in New York City on October 21, 1973. Raised in an upper middle class home in the historically low-income neighborhood of Harlem, Bragg spent his youth exposed to the notorious New York crime wave of the 1970s and ’80s. He has described his decision to become a prosecutor as a product, in large measure, of his own personal experiences with the city’s criminal-justice system — most notably three occasions when he was allegedly the victim of what he calls “unconstitutional” gunpoint stops by NYPD officers.



From the age of four until his high-school graduation in 1991, Bragg attended the highly prestigious Trinity School, one of the nation’s most elite private institutions, located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He went on to graduate from Harvard University with a B.A. in Government in 1995, and later earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School where he served as an editor for the left-leaning, student-run Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Review.


From 1999-2000, Bragg served as a law clerk for Judge Robert P. Patterson Jr. of the Southern District of New York. He then worked as an associate for the New York-based law firm of Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello from 2000-2003, focusing primarily on white-collar crime and civil rights issues.


From 2003-2006, Bragg assisted the office of then-New York State Attorney General and future Governor Eliot Spitzer. He subsequently served as the Chief of Litigation and Investigations for the New York City Council, prior to becoming an assistant U.S. Attorney for New York’s Southern District in 2009.


Bragg continued to advance his career as a New York public official with his return to the State Attorney General’s Office, serving as the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice from 2013-2017, and as Chief Deputy Attorney General from 2017-2018. Bragg says that during his tenure as Chief Deputy AG, he “oversaw litigation challenging the federal government’s anti-immigrant policies, including the federal government’s attempts to end DACA, impose a travel ban on Muslims, and include a citizenship question on the census.”


In January 2019, Bragg joined the faculty of New York Law School as a visiting professor. He also served a stint as co-director of the school’s Racial Justice Project, which Law.com describes as “a legal advocacy organization that examines issues of racial inequity and works to address them through litigation and policy recommendations.”


Campaign for District Attorney of New York County


On June 18, 2019, Bragg officially announced his intent to challenge the incumbent Cy Vance Jr. in the 2021 Democratic primaries for District Attorney of New York County — i.e., Manhattan. Bragg vowed that his “grassroots campaign” would not accept any corporate political donations. “We’re not going to be unduly influenced by anyone,” he declared.


In an official campaign video by which he launched his run for D.A. of Manhattan, Bragg identified the borough’s “two standards of justice” — “one for the rich and powerful and connected, and one for everyone else” — as the focal point of his priorities. “As D.A., from day one, I’ll work to make the office the progressive leader it should be,” he said, pledging to: (a) “reverse mass incarceration, especially in communities of color”; (b) carry out “thorough and transparent investigations of police misconduct”; and (c) “keep neighborhoods safe [by] ensuring one standard of justice.”


Campaign Platform


Bragg’s campaign website summarized a wide range of policies that the candidate planned to implement as Manhattan District Attorney. Among these were the following:

Reducing Gun Violence: “Comprehensive gun-violence reduction can only be achieved through a multi-faceted approach that includes law enforcement, community intervention/improvement, and legislative change. We will not arrest or incarcerate our way out of these problems…. For years, our city attempted to address violence with blunt, catch-all strategies such as stop-and-frisk and broken-windows which were ineffective, racist, and created a deep distrust of police by communities of color. […] Study after study has shown that overly broad increases in enforcement have little to no effect on reducing crime.” Ending Racial Disparities: “In fighting police misconduct, Alvin knows that Black and Latinx people accounted for 80% of the police-involved deaths in New York City from 2010-2015, while no unarmed white people were killed by the police during this time, and pledges to create a new Police Integrity Unit to ensure there is one standard of justice in Manhattan and no special protections for the powerful and well connected.” Declining and Diverting Minor Offenses: “Our courts have been clogged with petty offenses for too long. From smoking marijuana to jumping a turnstile, our criminal courts spend far too much time treating minor offenses with the same blunt instruments used to address homicides and other violent crimes. […] These cases do not belong in criminal court. The punishments are disproportionately harsh, and fall disproportionately on the backs of people of color. This makes them morally indefensible. […] This is why I will not prosecute most petty offenses through the traditional criminal court system. With important but limited exceptions, I will either dismiss these charges outright or offer the accused person the opportunity to complete a program without ever setting foot in a courtroom. Upon successful completion of that program, their case will be dismissed.”
  • Bragg further announced that he “will decline to prosecute any of the following charges, without exception”: marijuana misdemeanors, turnstile jumping, trespass, driving with a suspended license, consensual sex trade, outdated offenses, resisting arrest for a violation or non-criminal offense, and obstructing governmental administration.

Fighting for Economic Justice: “Alvin’s Economic Justice Initiative will target labor crimes against working people, such as negligence in workplace safety, and cheating workers out of overtime, workers’ compensation, paid sick leave, and unemployment insurance by ‘misclassifying’ them as independent contractors, or forcing them to work off the books.”

Ending Mass Incarceration: “As District Attorney,” said Bragg’s web page, “Alvin will make incarceration the last resort and will work to reverse the effects of mass incarceration” by doing the following:

  • “For cases that the [D.A.] office does recommend incarceration, the maximum sentence will be 20 years, absent exceptional circumstances.”

  • “Opposing any sentence of life without parole. Everyone should have a chance for parole.”

  • “Supporting legislation repealing mandatory minimums.”

  • “Eliminating the use [of] predicate felony sentencing enhancements.”

  • “Cases involving substance use and mental illness will be analyzed through a public health lens. Every case will be eligible for courts specializing in certain types of programming, such as drug treatment and mental health treatment.”

  • “The [D.A.] office will take into account the immigration consequences of charging someone with a crime and of any sentences.”

  • “Taking an active role in cases through the parole process, including writing letters in support of release to the parole board as a default position for every parole-eligible case.”

  • “Opposing revoking probation or parole for technical violations or requiring community supervision where it is not needed.”

  • “In any case in which a person allegedly violates the terms of a non-incarceratory sentence or pre-plea programming mandate, seek an incarceratory ‘alternative’ to be imposed only as a matter of last resort, after repeated opportunities are afforded for a successful completion of the mandate.”

  • Publishing charging, conviction, and sentencing data, along with racial and other demographic data.”

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LEIA MAIS >


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