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Horowitz: Manhattan DA to downgrade armed robbery to misdemeanor amid growing crime wave

Op-ed
YUKI IWAMURA/AFP/Getty Images

Last year, New York City experienced its worst crime wave in recent memory. Naturally, the response of the Soros DA in Manhattan was to make a New Year’s resolution to keep even more criminals out of jail.

As the NYPD is patrolling businesses to enforce “vaccine passport” mandates and drag 5-year-olds out of restaurants, don’t think that real criminals will get the same attention from law enforcement. Alvin Bragg, the newly elected Manhattan district attorney, sent out a memo to his staff on Monday directing prosecutors to not seek prison time for most criminals.

“This rule may be excepted only in extraordinary circumstances based on a holistic analysis of the facts, criminal history, victim’s input (particularly in cases of violence or trauma), and any other information available,” wrote Bragg in the memo obtained by the New York Post.

So, this is just for low-level crimes, right? Wrong! Bragg ordered prosecutors to charge armed robbers with petty larceny, which would have the effect of downgrading the maximum prison time from 25 years to one year. He also abolished life in prison without parole, even for the worst murderers and sex offenders. He further seeks to dramatically downgrade charges for certain residential burglars, drug dealers, and convicted criminals caught with weapons.

In other words, he is stepping on the gas pedal of every policy that has turned around the Giuliani miracle and has made many parts of Manhattan, including the subways, dangerous for the first time in a generation. This decision comes at a time when crimes of murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny, and grand larceny auto in New York rose above 100,000 incidents for the first time since 2016. According to NYPD data, felony assaults rose nearly 10% in 2021 – to the highest level since 2001. Car thefts were at the highest level since 2010, and incidents of gun violence were up 101% since 2019.

Many of these people who steal or maim on the streets in broad daylight that we have seen all too often in viral videos put out by the NYPD are mentally ill or homeless. Yet Bragg’s memo intimidates assistant district attorneys into not pursuing those criminals. “ADA’s should use their judgment and experience to evaluate the person arrested, and identify people: who suffer from mental illness; who are unhoused; who commit crimes of poverty; or who suffer from substance use disorders,” wrote Bragg. In other words, they shouldn’t prosecute them.

The reality is that the criminally insane are often the most dangerous and violent people who commit indiscriminate, heinous crimes on the streets. Liberals want to have it both ways. On the one hand, they treat them leniently because of their mental illness, but on the other hand they refuse to confine them in mental hospitals in lieu of prison. Absent a mandatory system of imprisonment or confinement in a mental hospital, these people will be free to harm others. Politicians in states like New York and California want them released on the streets to commit more crimes that they supposedly just can’t help committing. The fact that they have a mental illness is no solace to victims of crime and most certainly doesn’t make them less of a public safety concern.

There have been numerous examples of mentally ill homeless individuals engaging in dangerous crimes on subways, including attempted rape in broad daylight. They almost always have a litany of prior arrests within a few years, but never serve time. In 2020, there was a viral video showing Rashid Brimmage, a man with 103 prior arrests who was a convicted sex offender, striking a 92-year-old Bronx woman to the ground. He is mentally ill and lived in a homeless shelter but was allowed to remain on the streets for years.

These people pose an even greater public safety threat than other criminals who are more targeted in their crimes. The fact that they “can’t help but commit crimes” makes it an even greater imperative to get them off the streets.

The other poignant aspect of this memo is that it comes at a time when the NYPD is patrolling restaurants and demanding that people show their papers in scenes reminiscent of a very dark time. Violent career criminals are being treated with compassion as 5-year-olds are being dragged out of restaurants for not having a Pfizer passport. At some point, New York cops need to engage in some introspection about their own purpose. If they are going to be handcuffed in going after real criminals, why do they exhibit a sudden alacrity to enforce immoral and inhumane discriminatory acts against ordinary citizens?
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