By Helen Greenia
MANHATTAN, NY – Manhattan District Attorney-elect Alvin Bragg said he plans to reform Manhattan’s criminal legal system and ensure public safety by creating a transition committee with legal experts, service providers, religious leaders and law enforcement.
Bragg is a civil rights lawyer and former Chief Deputy Attorney General of New York. And the first Black district attorney of Manhattan.
Bragg has experienced being stopped at gunpoint by police when he was as young as 15 years old. He claims he is committed to ending racially motivated crimes by officers and reforming mass incarcerations. However, his first focus is to address gun violence.
At his victory speech last week, Bragg said to CNN, “In addition to being the first Black district attorney, I think I’ll probably be the first district attorney who’s had police point a gun at him. I think I’ll be the first district attorney who’s had a homicide victim on his doorstop.
“I think I’ll be the first district attorney in Manhattan who’s had a semi-automatic weapon pointed at him. I think I’ll be the first district attorney in Manhattan whose had a loved one re-enter from incarceration and stay with him. And I’m going to govern from that perspective.”
The transition committee includes policy experts, who plan to focus on policies, procedures, and people in order to improve the safety of Manhattan and the justice system. There are several sub-committees, including Pathways to Success, Data, Budget, Operations, Ethics, Free the Wrongfully Convicted, Guns, and Hate Crimes.
The transition committee will be co-chaired by Lauren-Brooke Eisen, Director of the Justice Program; Leroy Frazer, former Chief of Staff and Executive ADA; and Insha Rahman, Vice President of Advocacy & Partnerships at the Vera Institute of Justice. Judge Milton A. Tingling, retired Justice of the NYS Supreme Court, has been appointed as the Senior Advisor.
Bragg discussed the goals of the committee: “I am grateful to this group of talented and committed leaders who are volunteering their time and wisdom to ensure we are ready on Day 1 to transform the office to make it the progressive leader it should be.
“The transition committee will be focused on doing the work necessary to identify the plans and people to implement my agenda to address both the need for fundamental reforms in the criminal legal system and the need for community safety. 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, my life, and will be the focus of this office.”
He explained that the transition committee will help end racial disparities, mass incarcerations, and create a safer environment. Bragg hopes to bring justice to victims of sexual assault and gun violence, as well as investing in programs for mental health and substance abuse. And, Bragg said he plans to help rebuild Rikers Island Jail, which is run down and in dire need of reform.
Eisen stated, “I am thrilled to co-chair this transition committee and work with an exceptional group of people all dedicated to the transformational change that New York City’s criminal legal system so desperately needs.”
She explained that New York is severely damaged by COVID-19, where conditions of prisons have become worse and there has been an increase in gun violence.
“This is an important moment to support the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the incoming District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, to ensure they have the tools to enact innovative reforms in the criminal legal system and to protect community safety,” Eisen added.