During his time as Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance has worked to make the local justice system fairer, more efficient, and more effective – particularly for those communities that have historically been ignored or abused by the system. This approach has allowed the District Attorney’s Office to contribute to a historically low crime rate — with Manhattan index crimes down to the lowest level ever recorded — while also ensuring that every New Yorker, regardless of race, religion, gender, or immigration status, who enters the criminal justice system is treated fairly.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM:
DA Vance has reduced unnecessary incarceration, ended the criminal prosecution of thousands of low-level, nonviolent offenses annually, and slashed the number of people coming into the criminal justice system in Manhattan nearly in half. These reforms include:
- Ending the prosecution of turnstile-jumping cases except where there is a demonstrated public safety reason to do so
- Dismissing more than 240,000 old summons warrants originally issued for minor, nonviolent offenses, which subjected those individuals to arrest, housing, and immigration consequences
- Ending the prosecution of most low-level, nonviolent violations and infractions through efforts like the Manhattan Summons Initiative, leading to a 27% reduction in low-level offense prosecutions by the Manhattan DA’s of ce since 2010
- Creating and funding pre-arraignment diversion programs to enable thousands of rst-time arrestees charged with non- violent misdemeanors to avoid prosecution and an arrest record, while being held accountable in a community setting
- Launching the Manhattan Hope Program, allowing individuals arrested for low-level drug offenses, including marijuana, to com- plete a treatment program instead of entering criminal court
- Supporting the closure of Rikers Island and laying the ground- work for it by contributing $14 million (of $17 million total) in funding for citywide Supervised Release programs
DA Vance has invested significant time, energy, and resources into transforming the Office’s internal structure and policies, creating a fairer criminal justice system. These efforts include:
- Inviting the Vera Institute of Justice to conduct and publish a two-year study focused on racial disparities in dispositions and implicit bias in prosecutorial decision-making
- Implementing mandatory, comprehensive implicit bias training — based on Vera’s findings – for every ADA and staff member
- Creating New York City’s first Alternatives to Incarceration Unit to help prosecutors reach community-based dispositions and reduce unnecessary jail time
- Creating the Conviction Integrity Program, the first independent review in the five boroughs to investigate post-conviction claims of innocence, and prevent wrongful convictions from happening in the first place
- Investing millions of dollars seized in the Ofiice’s financial crime prosecutions into large-scale efforts to prevent crime and accelerate reform, including equipping the NYPD with mobile technology, enhancing NYCHA security, and funding New York’s first statewide College-In-Prison program
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN:
DA Vance has prioritized fighting crimes against women by:
- Allocating $38 million to help end the national backlog of untested rape kits. This will test more than 56,000 rape kits across 20 states, holding perpetrators accountable and bringing justice to survivors
- Opening the first-ever Manhattan Family Justice Center at 80 Centre Street to provide victims of domestic violence with centralized access to a host of resources, including specialized prosecutors, social service workers, civil attorneys, therapists, childcare, and more
- Creating the Human Traf cking Response Unit and shutting down numerous, cross-border sex traficcking operations
DA Vance believes getting and keeping illegal guns off our streets is fundamental to New York City’s health and safety and has actively worked to stem the proliferation of gun violence, including:
- Focusing on major gun traffickers that import thousands of illegal guns every year and creating the Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit, whose proactive investigations have led to the removal of more than 1,700 guns from New York City streets
- Working in high-risk communities to host gun buybacks, which have resulted in taking 140 guns off the streets, and providing educational programs aimed at ending gun violence
- Founding Prosecutors Against Gun Violence (PAGV), an independent, non-partisan coalition, comprised of big-city prosecutors from across the country, working toward meaningful solutions to the national public emergency of gun violence. PAGV fights for common sense gun safety policies, such as improving the accuracy of our background check systems, preventing terrorists from obtaining dangerous weapons, and limiting the access to guns by domestic violence perpetrators
- Working to defeat the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would force New York to honor concealed-carry rearm privileges issued in other states with weaker or no standards
To match the growing threat of cybercrime and cyberterrorism, DA Vance has adopted state-of the-art technology and brought together cybercrime experts from across the world. This work includes:
- Establishing a nationally-recognized Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, and opening an in-house Manhattan DA Cyber Lab, with 75 full-time staff members – the largest cybercrime team in a District Attorney’s Office in the United States
- Dismantling several major domestic and international cybercrime and identity theft operations
- Launching the non-profit Global Cyber Alliance with the City of London Police, the first organization of its kind, which brings together more than 185 businesses and government entities across 22 different countries in an effort to prevent cybercrimes before they happen
- Opening the Manhattan District Attorney Cyber Academy to train law enforcement worldwide in the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime, and in the collection and use of electronic evidence
JUNE 6, 2016 - The New York Times Letter to The Editor:
“New York’s Outdated Knife Law" (editorial, May 31) states that in New York City “gravity knives account for more than two-thirds of arrests” under an unspecified “weapons law.”
But prosecutions for the possession of gravity knives are hardly as prevalent as the editorial suggests: In 2015 in Manhattan, fewer than 2 percent of all misdemeanor prosecutions were for the possession of gravity knives.
The editorial supports a bill that would legalize the possession of knives that can be flicked open with one hand. The ban on such knives has been in effect since 1958, and its constitutionality has been uniformly upheld.
The ban has enhanced public safety, and ending it now amid highly publicized slashing incidents in our city’s streets and subways is not advisable.
We provided a memorandum to the Legislature proposing amendments to the law in fairness to those who carry gravity knives for bona fide trade or business reasons.
That memorandum sets forth reasonable ways to address the legitimate concerns of tradespeople without compromising public safety.
CYRUS R. VANCE Jr.
District Attorney, New York County