How this “progressive prosecutor” reconciles politics and public safety

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When the plan, “Justice 2020”, came out, it was “a non-story, because he had already sold it and started to implement it”, said Tali Farhadian Weinstein, who served as general counsel under M Gonzalez, and ran unsuccessfully against Mr. Bragg last year. She and several other former colleagues said the quiet, gradual rollout was typical of her style. “Not because you’re trying to hide the ball, but because sometimes it’s the best way for public safety,” she said.

During his first full term, Gonzalez continued the work he began as acting district attorney: He dismissed tens of thousands of subpoenas for minor offenses and virtually stopped prosecuting. court for possession of marijuana. He expanded a mentorship program that allowed some young men arrested with a firearm for the first time to avoid prison, and he struck plea deals with immigrant defendants that allowed them to avoid jail time. ‘expulsion.

Yung-Mi Lee, legal director of the criminal defense practice at Brooklyn Defender Services, said an important difference between Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Bragg was that Mr. Gonzalez did not walk out of doors with a radical set. of changes.

Instead, Ms Lee said, he had “quietly implemented his policies, in terms of the types of cases to be prosecuted, what types of cases he refused to prosecute – some taking “a very tough approach. ”

“It’s a matter of the prosecutor’s discretion,” she said.

When Bay Ridge residents were upset by a group of men who often lingered in a corner near a school, drinking and urinating, Mr. Gonzalez said, his office stepped in. Instead of asking for charges, the office contacted a charity service and placed a few men in shelters.

“Eric Gonzalez, rhetorically, is very progressive,” said Carl Hamad-Lipscombe, executive director of the Envision Freedom Fund, a Brooklyn nonprofit bail fund that lobbies for alternatives to pretrial detention.

“What happens in court is often very different,” Mr. Hamad-Lipscombe said, with prosecutors in Mr. Gonzalez’s office asking for bail in cases that may not require it.

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