Manhattan DA’s Office Releases Report on Innovation in Prosecution at Intelligence-Driven Prosecution Symposium

March 13, 2018

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office today released Models for Innovation: The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, 2010-2018, a comprehensive report on the development and implementation of innovative prosecution and justice reform strategies undertaken by the Office since 2010. The release of the report coincides with the Office’s sixth Symposium on Intelligence-Driven Prosecution, a two-day summit where prosecutors and criminal justice practitioners from across the U.S. share best practices and learn about the Office’s work with an eye toward replicating its initiatives in their own jurisdictions.

“As we work to address 21st-century criminal problems, prosecutors and law enforcement must also leverage our resources and expertise to build a smarter, more equal, and more efficient 21st-century justice system,” said District Attorney Vance. “Our Models for Innovation report documents how our office has deployed innovation to fight 21st-century crimes, and to reform the system itself. I would like to thank all who participated in our Symposium, as well as the staff of the Manhattan DA Academy, for creating another lively and productive forum on the future of law enforcement and criminal justice.”

Models for Innovation

The Models for Innovation report details several recent initiatives to promote fairness and efficiency in the court system with thorough analyses on the impacts of these initiatives, including:

  • Creating pre-arraignment diversion programs, which lessen the burden on Manhattan Criminal Court and provide proportionate, community-based responses to low-level misdemeanor crimes;
  • Working with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to reduce arrests for low-level marijuana possession;
  • Declining to prosecute certain non-violent misdemeanor offenses, such as turnstile jumping, except where the defendant poses a demonstrated risk to public safety;
  • Ending the prosecution of tens of thousands of violations and infractions, such as public consumption of alcohol, each year;
  • Creating opportunities for individuals to clear outstanding summons warrants, and dismissing decade-old summons cases en masse;
  • Creating an Alternatives to Incarceration Unit and bolstering specialized courts to deliver targeted services that reduce recidivism by addressing the root causes of an individual’s criminal behavior;
  • Ending requests for bail in most misdemeanor and violation cases, and developing alternatives to cash bail;
  • 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 for all ADAs and staff members based on Vera’s findings;
  • Establishing dedicated bureaus and units to harness the collective resources of the office in order to tackle 21st century crimes, improve the handling of specialized crimes, integrate data-driven approaches, and establish best practices for working with victims.

Symposium on Intelligence-Driven Prosecution

The Symposium on Intelligence-Driven Prosecution draws prosecutors and law enforcement officials from jurisdictions across the U.S. to focus on the future of criminal justice, share best practices, and develop 21st-century strategies for crime reduction. The sixth Symposium on Intelligence-Driven Prosecution centered on the theme of innovation in prosecution, and featured presentations and panel discussions on reform measures developed by the District Attorney’s Office. Topics included alternatives to incarceration, reentry initiatives, and the intersection of public health and the criminal justice system. Approximately 180 attendees from nearly 50 agencies and organizations participated in the event.

The Symposium was organized by the Manhattan DA Academy, which identifies best practices in public safety and criminal justice reform, trains prosecutors and other stakeholders, and facilitates education programs for formerly incarcerated New Yorkers.