Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Announces Next Step in Strategy to Fight Violent Crime: $32 Million in Targeted, Anti-Violence Prosecution StrategiesJune 17, 2016
Package is first in City history to include resources to identify which prosecution strategies most effectively reduce violence
Package also supports immediate priorities, including a new Rikers Island Bureau to combat violence in jails, enhanced evidence gathering in gun cases, and dedicated resources to increase domestic violence convictions and tackle the heroin crisis
NEW YORK – The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice today announced $32 million in targeted investments that will provide District Attorneys with tools to combat the leading drivers of violent crime in each borough. This package is the first in City history to explicitly include resources to measure which prosecution strategies most effectively reduce violence. The investment advances a citywide commitment to make evidence-driven decisions about public safety.
As part of the strategy announced today, all five District Attorneys’ offices will join a citywide Anti-Violence Task Force, consisting of other law enforcement partners and convened by the Mayor’s Office, that will promote enhanced information sharing, innovation and replication of the most effective crime fighting strategies. Working with the experts and researchers, the group will develop strategies that most effectively target the individuals, groups and places driving the City’s remaining violent crime and will develop metrics to gauge effectiveness.
“Our city remains the safest large city in the United States, but each and every life lost by violence is unacceptable,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Strategic, evidence-driven thinking has brought crime down in New York City for years, and we remain committed to reducing crime even further. I am confident that this initiative will help support prosecutors in our city as they work to maximize their effectiveness in addressing violent crime.”
“New York City has led the nation in innovative anti-crime strategies for decades, but today is the first time we are explicitly incentivizing targeted, research-informed prosecution strategies to reduce violent crime even further,” said Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. “Driving down violent crime is a common goal of neighborhood residents, city, state, and federal agencies and prosecution strategies can be a linchpin in getting violent criminals off the street.”
The plan announced today includes targeted investments that will support prosecutors in addressing urgent priorities, identified through a deep data dive to understand the unique crime trends and needs in each borough. These investments include $22 million in recurring funding included in the FY2017 adopted budget – a key priority of the City Council, championed by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Public Safety Committee Chair Vanessa Gibson – as well as $10 million in award funding from the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.
To focus on the neighborhoods, groups and individuals driving crime, the package announced today prioritizes:
- Reducing violence committed by inmates in City jails. Despite a decline in inmate assaults on staff by 17% in the first four months of 2016, reducing violence on Rikers remains an administration priority. Prosecuting new cases based on incidents that occur in jail is particularly time-consuming and complex; a new dedicated Rikers Island Bureau will support the Bronx District Attorney’s office’s expeditious and effective enforcement.
- Increasing convictions in domestic violence cases. The citywide conviction rate in domestic violence cases was 32.3% in 2015. The funding announced today will reduce domestic violence caseloads, allowing for more dedicated attention to each domestic violence case – particularly important in building the close relationships between prosecutors and survivors often needed to secure a conviction. A dedicated domestic violence unit co-located in Family Justice Center will connect survivors to much-needed services.
- Ensuring that shooters remain off the streets. The citywide felony gun possession conviction rate was 52% in 2015. The investments announced today will enhance prosecutors’ ability to build strong cases against shooters and gun possessors and to develop complex prosecutions—often involving multi-defendant cases.
- Tackling the heroin and prescription drug crises. Overdose deaths outnumber homicides in New York City. New funding will expand capacity in Narcotics and Investigation Bureaus and support an alternative to incarceration drug program, advancing the Administration’s commitment to both address suppliers and to expand efforts to address opioid addiction.
- Improving community relations, a key strategy in successful prosecution. New funding will support the Staten Island District Attorney’s office in creating a Community Partnerships Unit – modeled after similar units already operational in the other boroughs – designed to build strong relationships with residents to better prosecute and prevent crime.
The complete list of investments is available here.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said, “I am delighted to secure funding to create a new Alternatives to Incarceration unit within the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office – the first unit of its kind in New York City. Our new ATI Unit will identify and evaluate diversion and supervision options for individuals charged with low-level crimes, and help prosecutors throughout our Office reach community-based dispositions in appropriate cases. The creation of this unit will accelerate our efforts to provide safe alternatives to incarceration, focus law enforcement resources on more serious crimes, and enhance our relationships in the communities we serve. ”
Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, “We have linked our Gun Readiness Unit with the NYPD Suppression Division in high-volume gun precincts to respond in real time to enhance investigations and prosecutions of violent crimes, and this funding will help us bring these cases swiftly to trial. Coupled with the $11.5 million that we are receiving for other key initiatives, these resources take our Office into 21st Century crime-fighting to serve the people of the Bronx. We are grateful to the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice for its resolute support.”
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said, “To ensure the safety of the over 2.5 million residents of Brooklyn, the funding announced today reinforces our efforts to combat gun violence and strengthen prosecutions to keep dangerous criminals off our streets. By expanding Brooklyn’s Crime Strategies Unit and enhancing our forensic science capabilities, the prosecutors and investigators in my office are now able to do more to keep Brooklyn safe.”
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said, “We are pleased to be working with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and our fellow prosecutors on this important new initiative targeting gun violence and related offenses in our communities. The need for this type of coordinated activity is critical. Despite record low levels of crime across the city, shooting incidents and gun violence continue to plague our neighborhoods. The appropriation of these funds will assist us in responding to the many new and emerging areas in criminal activity around us and to continue to fulfill our constitutional and statutory obligations and will recognize the important role that we as prosecutors play in making the justice system work for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”
“Staten Island is a borough that faces some of the gravest criminal justice challenges in the City. Our heroin epidemic is destroying lives each and every day, while increased gun violence and rising numbers in domestic violence cases is fueling violent crime and adding to the homicide rate,” said Staten Island District Attorney Michael E. McMahon. “I commend the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice for taking this historic and necessary step to address the unique and urgent needs facing each of the five boroughs District Attorney’s offices. Given these additional resources we will build on the steps my office has already taken to ensure the safety and security of all Staten Islanders.”
Staten Island Borough President James S. Oddo said, “I am grateful to the Mayor for committing additional resources to our District Attorneys, particularly to Staten Island District Attorney McMahon. I am particularly grateful for the priority on the prescription drug and heroin epidemic, which continues to rage. There are many facets to tackling this problem and investigating and prosecuting drug dealers to get the supply off the street is an important one that we must continue to aggressively address.”
“Dedicated police officers walking the beat and detectives investigating crimes depend on prosecutors to keep the criminals who have been caught away from our neighborhoods,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “During my days in NYPD blue, standing on our city’s street corners, I found people that had arrested for violent crimes were back on the street before the arrest report had been processed; we cannot accept that standard of safety in our communities. A sustained investment of resources to keep dangerous criminals locked up, particularly domestic abusers as well as individuals who possess illegal guns and have previously evaded conviction, is of vital importance to our shared goal of ensuring New York City is a safer place to raise healthy children and families. Additionally, I support any effort to bring innovation to law enforcement, as it is critical for us to consider researching and developing new strategies to most effectively combat violent crime.”
“I am extremely delighted that the final budget we will soon pass includes a baselined $22 million dollars for all five district attorneys. This agreement between the Mayor and the City Council recognizes that investments in our prosecutors are necessary for their offices to operate more efficiently and effectively. These funds will also enhance and create new units within the several of the DAs offices, allowing them to better serve the varied needs of residents across the five boroughs,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson. “I am thankful to the Mayor, the Office of Management and Budget, the City Council Speaker, and certainly to the 36 colleagues who joined me in a letter to the Mayor supporting full funding for our DAs. As Public Safety Chair, I look forward to continuing to work with all five district attorneys and am proud that all of our prosecutor’s offices’ now have the 21st century technology and enhanced budgets that will allow them to protect the public safety of all New Yorkers.”
“The New York City Council is proud to have successfully advocated for ongoing funding for District Attorney’s in the five boroughs. Twenty-two million dollars to enhance their operations will help combat gun violence, drug trafficking and domestic violence among other high priority initiatives aimed at keeping our city safer. Reinforcing anti-violence prosecution is a key investment as our city reduces crime and reforms its penal system.” Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, chair of the Council’s Finance Committee.
“Our district attorneys play a critical role in protecting the public and creating a fairer criminal justice system,” said Council Member Rory I. Lancman, Chair of the Courts & Legal Services Committee. “This funding delivers on their requests for a dedicated anti-gun violence unit in Queens, a Rikers Island unit in the Bronx, a focused effort on combating opioid abuse in Staten Island, and other local initiatives tailored to each borough’s needs.”
Council Member Vincent J. Gentile said, “As a former assistant DA, I know firsthand how vital it is to have an appropriate budget to get things done on both a criminal justice and public safety level. Whether it’s implementing anti-violence prosecution strategies, drug prevention programs, acquiring valuable resources to conduct casework or hiring highly qualified staff, having sufficient funds for a DA’s operation is paramount towards successful investigations, prosecutions and borough wide safety.”
“This new funding will provide our District Attorneys with the tools they need to keep NYC safe,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). “While crime in our city is at an all-time low, there is still work to be done. I applaud this $32 million allocation and will continue to work with the administration to eliminate violence from our streets.”