Since taking office, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. has implemented numerous policies to end the prosecution of thousands of low-level, nonviolent cases. These signature reforms created off-ramps to divert people from the courtroom and into community-based programming and established internal procedures to systematically decline to prosecute a wide subset of cases en masse.
From its inception, the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (CJII) rooted its investments in New York City communities most impacted by violence, and prioritized funding community-based organizations and partnerships among organizations as a core facet of its public safety investment strategy.
Over the unprecedented past year, New York City and our nation have experienced immense suffering and trauma due to a series of crises: the COVID-19 pandemic, systemic racism in our society, and an alarming rise in gun violence in our metropolitan cities. These crises have brought into sharp relief our society’s inequalities, particularly in our justice system, and the role we, as prosecutors, must play to bring about much-needed change.
As state and local governments across the country seek to improve public safety and social justice, while also confronting the fiscal challenges raised by the pandemic, collaboration is more important than ever.
Test Every Kit: Results from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Grant Program
The jurisdictions funded under the Manhattan District Attorney’s Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Grant Program have seen tremendous results. Over the duration of the program, 32 jurisdictions across 20 states sent over 55,000 backlogged kits for testing.
In 2015, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office joined with the Governor’s Office to expand college in prison programming across the State using asset forfeiture dollars, and subsequently launched a five-year College in Prison Reentry Initiative, providing $7.3 million for post-secondary education in DOCCS facilities and a blueprint for a cohesive statewide college in prison strategy. Funding from my office will end in July of 2022 and my office does not have the resources to provide an extension.