Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Selects the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance to Advise on Criminal Justice Investments

November 25, 2014

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., together with The City University of New York (CUNY) Chancellor James B. Milliken and CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG) Executive Director Michael Jacobson, today announced the engagement of ISLG to advise and provide technical assistance for the investment of approximately $250 million of asset forfeiture funds in projects that will enhance public safety, aid in crime prevention, and promote a fair and more efficient criminal justice system. These asset forfeiture funds are derived from settlements with international banks that violated U.S. sanctions, and form the foundation of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (CJII). ISLG will provide valuable input on the selection and implementation of projects across a number of key areas identified by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, including domestic violence, victim and witness services, cybercrime, narcotics and substance abuse, intelligence-driven prosecution, preventing criminality among young men, and re-entry. 
“The millions of dollars forfeited to my Office by banks which violated U.S. sanctions represents a tremendous opportunity to make a lasting impact on the criminal justice system,” said District Attorney Vance. “In order to achieve our twin goals of enhancing public safety and making the criminal justice system fairer, we have engaged ISLG, part of our City’s public university system, with a proven track record of success in this area. With ISLG’s valuable input and assistance, my Office will ensure that our investments are potentially transformative, well-executed, and sustainable over the long term.”

CUNY Chancellor Milliken said: “CUNY is very pleased to partner with the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. on this extraordinary public safety initiative through the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance. We welcome the opportunity to contribute the University’s expertise to help assure the prudent investment of forfeiture funding in support of crime prevention and improvements in the criminal justice system.”

ISLG Executive Director Jacobson said: “We’re grateful for the opportunity to work with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to help it make targeted investments, based on research and best practices, that can improve public safety, promote fairness, and increase the quality of life for all New Yorkers.”

ISLG will act as the technical assistance consultant for the CJII, helping to guide the selection of projects, provide oversight for the projects once selected, and carefully monitor performance and outcomes to assess the impact of initiative-funded projects. 

ISLG will provide such services on two recently announced projects:  Two weeks ago, District Attorney Vance pledged up to $35 million to eliminate the national rape kit backlog by identifying and generating DNA evidence from thousands of untested sexual assault evidence kits in cities around the country. Last month, District Attorney Vance joined Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton to announce funding for the $160 million NYPD Mobility Initiative, which will provide NYPD officers with more than 40,000 mobile devices, including tablet computers and handheld devices that will streamline law enforcement efforts, increase the safety of New Yorkers and police officers alike, and ensure fairness within the City’s criminal justice system. 

Created in 2013 by the City University of New York, ISLG works with government, nonprofit, private and philanthropic organizations to improve the structure, financing, delivery, measurement and evaluation of vital public services. The institute offers extensive analytical and substantive expertise in areas including criminal justice, public health, governmental budgeting, transportation, infrastructure and education. Executive Director Michael Jacobson’s career in public service includes holding senior positions in the New York City Office of Management and Budget, serving as Commissioner of Probation and Corrections, serving as a tenured professor at John Jay College and the Graduate Center of CUNY, and running the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice. ISLG is supported by an active 10-member Advisory Board comprised of renowned professionals in government, academia, and the private sector. The Advisory Board is chaired by Marc Shaw, former First Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Operations to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and an expert in government and budgeting with over 25 years of experience working in government and finance