New York County Democratic District Attorney Alvin Bragg is in hot water following recent reports that he downgraded 52% of felony cases to misdemeanors in 2022 while New Yorkers continue to face surging crime rates, Fox News Digital reported.
According to data from the DA office website, 39% of felony charges were downgraded to misdemeanors in 2019. From 2013 to 2020, under District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., the percentage of downgraded cases never exceeded 40%.
Since taking office in January, Bragg's office has won only 51% of prosecuted felony charges, compared to Vance's 68% in 2019.
Bragg has declined to prosecute 35% more felony cases this year compared to 2019.
The DA's office blamed the impact of COVID and reforms to New York's discovery laws in 2019. Bragg's office also claimed that not every felony charge was correctly classified at the time of the arrests.
In a "Day One" memo to staff on January 3, Bragg instructed prosecutors to reduce felony charges for armed robberies and drug dealing. In addition, the memo stated that the DA's office would no longer prosecute many serious charges that were not also accompanied by a felony count.
"These policy changes not only will, in and of themselves, make us safer; they also will free up prosecutorial resources to focus on violent crime," Bragg claimed.
Meanwhile, the New York Police Department's latest crime statistics reported that overall crimes are up 27.6% this year. Compared to the same time last year, felony assaults are up 13.2%, rapes 10.1%, robberies 29.9%, and transit crimes 41.7%. Conversely, murders are down 13.8%, and shootings are down 14.8%.
Jeanine Pirro, a former Westchester County district attorney, slammed Bragg for his low conviction rate. Pirro stated that during her three terms as a Republican DA, her conviction rate was 94.8%.
"That's an office where we take crime seriously. We're passionate about it. ... And 84% of all defendants of those were convicted of the highest count," Pirro said on Fox News' "The Five."
Pirro's co-host Harold Ford Jr., a Democrat and former Tennessee congressman, also blamed Bragg for making Manhattan residents feel unsafe.
"[Democrats] will not enjoy this [voter registration] advantage if we continue to take in the lackadaisical and irresponsible way as we go about talking about these issues," said Ford. "I know Alvin Bragg and I like him personally. I would much rather have him – or for that matter, anyone in that office – sit back after a year and say what's working and what's not working."
A spokesperson for Bragg's office, Danielle Filson, told the New York Post, "The fact is, we have prosecuted 459 more felonies this year compared to last and we have three times as many gun convictions so far this year compared to all of 2019. … We will continue prosecuting violence drivers and prioritizing safety and fairness in every case."