We were intrigued by new Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Braggs’s dismay over the public’s pushback against his out-of-the-gate marching orders to his prosecutors.
Bragg said that they are to avoid seeking jail time for those convicted of all but the most serious crimes like murder, a crime that involves someone’s death, a sexual assault, or economic crimes involving large sums of money. He said they are also not to request prison sentences of more than 20 years unless there were “exceptional circumstances.”
Bragg further directed that they should not even prosecute such crimes as routine gun possession in cases where no other crimes were involved; trespassing; subway and bus fare beating; sex crimes and resisting arrest. Yes, resisting arrest!
He also said that several categories of felonies must be routinely downgraded to less serious misdemeanor categories. In a word, they must lean towards reducing charges wherever possible.
Bragg explained that in order to be fair to those who commit violations of law, their personal experiences must be a factor in how they are treated by the criminal justice system. He said he was therefore committed in principle to softening some of the harshness of criminal law enforcement, preferring alternatives to criminal charges and incarceration.
To us, this all amounts to turning the common understanding of law enforcement on its head. That is, the rule that “you do the crime, you do the time.” Any factors personal to an alleged perpetrator that might factor in leniency must ordinarily come at the sentencing, not the charging stage. And while fairness for all must be pursued, the principal goal of law enforcement was to deter criminals – not to conduct social work experiments. Put another way, the Bragg approach seems to choose considerations of fairness for the accused over deterrence of crime.
So why was DA Bragg so surprised, given the radical changes he was calling for that fly in the face of conventional wisdom. What could he have expected to be the reaction when he plainly usurped legislative prerogatives by amending, if not reversing, legislative policy determinations as to the reach of the criminal law? Was he unable to conceive that serious people could disagree with him and hearken to the wisdom of the past?
We think the answer lies in the progressive mindset, which is unable to conceive that there could be legitimate opposition to the woke agenda. That is, to its author, the Bragg manifesto represents the revealed word. Small wonder that there is already a clamor for the governor to remove Mr. Bragg from office.