Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, is dangerous over and above anything we would even recognize in the U.S. What I remember most vividly about Sao Paulo was a visit to the “rich” section of town. The outer walls of many exclusive private residences included a special tower composed of bulletproof glass—each one with a private security guard and a machine gun. I couldn’t believe things could be that bad. Aren’t we fortunate, I thought at the time, that our cities don’t resemble Sao Paulo? Cut to 2022.
The U.S. may be on the road to Sao Paulo-style lawlessness, with New York leading the way. The newly-elected district attorney of Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, has ordered his prosecutors to stop seeking prison sentences for hordes of criminals and to downgrade felony charges in cases including armed robberies and drug dealing. Bragg’s office will not seek jail for anything short of murder or certain types of deadly assault. Minor crimes, such as trespassing, theft of services, fare beating, routine traffic violations, and prostitution, won’t be prosecuted at all.
This must be pleasing to leftist billionaire George Soros, who contributed a million dollars to Bragg’s election campaign. Soros has supported other “progressive” prosecutors in places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, and now he has hit the jackpot with the Big Apple. Under Bragg’s supervision, armed robbers who use guns or other deadly weapons to rob stores in Manhattan will be prosecuted only for petty larceny, a misdemeanor, if no victims are seriously injured and there is no “genuine risk of physical harm” to anyone.
How can there be no “genuine risk of physical harm” when the robber points a loaded weapon at his victim? This is pure doubletalk. It suggests that Bragg will bend over backward to avoid prosecuting criminals. Even if you murder someone, Bragg wants to limit your sentence to a maximum of 20 years.
“ADAs should use their judgment and experience to evaluate the person arrested,” Bragg told his staff, “and identify people: who suffer from mental illness; who are unhoused; who commit crimes of poverty; or who suffer from substance use disorders. Charges should be brought consistent with the goal of providing services to such individuals.”
What exactly is a crime of poverty? How does being “unhoused” add up to a defense? What “services” does Bragg want to offer the criminal? Once again, this is doubletalk.
“These policy changes will make us safer,” Bragg concluded. More doubletalk. “Dangerous thugs will end up back on the streets without seeing the inside of a jail cell,” said Eric Shawn on Fox News. New York will revert back to the lawless conditions that existed before Mayor Giuliani put the brakes on with his “broken windows” policing policy. “[Bragg is] paving the way for an even bigger bloodbath than what we have seen in New York City already,” said Jennifer Harrison, head of a crime victims advocacy group. “It’s going to be deadly.”
“Bragg gives criminals the roadmap to freedom from prosecution and control of our streets,” said the head of the NYPD detectives’ association.
“In Bragg’s Manhattan,” said DEA President Paul DiGiacomo, “you can resist arrest, deal drugs, obstruct arrests, and even carry a gun and get away with it.”
Bragg’s policies will have a demoralizing effect on police. “Police officers don’t want to be sent out to enforce laws that the district attorneys won’t prosecute,” said PBA President Patrick Lynch. “There are already too many people who believe that they can commit crimes, resist arrest, interfere with police officers and face zero consequences.”
Bragg is symptomatic of an even bigger issue. Thanks to the refusal of state and local Democrat politicians to enforce the law, we have witnessed hundreds of violent riots and a general breakdown of law and order. Mayors of our largest cities have endorsed defunding the police. America in 2022 is a far cry from anything we have experienced before. This is due in large part to the refusal of district attorneys to prosecute criminal behavior. The job of the DA is to enforce existing law, not discriminate based on ideological preferences.
“Who is Bragg,” writes Bob McManus in the New York Post, “or any DA—unilaterally to decide which laws are to be enforced and which are not?”
Remember this: Bragg did not appear out of thin air—New York voters elected him. Where will Bragg and his progressive colleagues throughout the country be taking us? Let’s hope Soros’ new prosecutorial movement will not turn New York into Sao Paulo.
Ed Brodow is a conservative political commentator, negotiation expert, and author of eight books including Tyranny of the Minority: How the Left is Destroying America. He is a former US Marine officer, Fortune 500 sales executive, and Hollywood movie actor.
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