According to data provided by the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, more than one-third of people charged in Queens with either homicide or robbery were on probation, parole, or had a pending case at the time of their arrest. These numbers indicate that the criminal-justice system is not keeping the public safe, because people already known to be dangerous are roaming free. But given the field of candidates vying to become Queens district attorney in next week’s primary election, it seems likely that whoever gets the job will only make the problem worse.
Over the past few years, a deep-blue wave has sent a new breed of prosecutor into office in cities across the country. These prosecutors see themselves less as law-enforcement officers than as activists or change agents whose mission is to alter criminal-justice outcomes from within the system. They are more concerned with promoting a progressive vision for criminal-justice reform than with punishing criminals or preventing violent crime. And among the frontrunning DA candidates in the Queens race, these tendencies run deep.
New Yorkers have already gotten a taste of it. In Brooklyn, DA Eric Gonzalez has promised to prioritize consideration of “non-jail resolutions” and to push for the early release of convicted felons. In Manhattan, DA Cy Vance made it official policy to refuse to prosecute disfavored offenses like marijuana possession and fare evasion. Now the progressive-prosecutor movement is knocking on Queens’s door.
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