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Criminal Justice Reform/Public Safety

We must make our city and communities safe. To do that, we don’t need to choose between reform and public safety — those two objectives are inherently linked. As the only candidate in the race with a law enforcement background – and who has also demonstrated a lifelong commitment to criminal justice reform – Dan brings experience and a unique understanding of this challenge to this race. 


Dan spent ten years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York working with Preet Bharara, serving as a supervisor in the Organized Crime Unit and as Senior Trial Counsel.  There, Dan prosecuted mafia bosses, violent criminals, and corporate fraud. Dan saw first-hand how the system can have a life-long impact on young people and also how the proliferation of guns drives so much of the violence we are dealing with. 


Underlying his career in public service has been a lifelong commitment to civil rights, social justice, and progressive values. Dan’s research on racial disparities in the criminal justice system went into Michelle Alexander’s seminal book – The New Jim Crow – which documented the inequalities in the criminal justice system. We must divert more nonviolent offenders and get them the services and education they need, particularly youth and those dealing with mental health and addiction issues. To that end, Dan believes that we must increase funding for vocational education for non-violent offenders, substance abuse treatment, and mental health treatment in order to address the root cause of much of the crime in our city.


In addition to trying to keep people out of the criminal justice system, we must also help people stay out of the system. Dan supports Clean Slate and investing in re-entry programs — including job training and job placement — so we can end the cycle of recidivism. We need to create partnerships with corporations to hire individuals recently released from prison with good-paying jobs. Federal dollars can support nonprofit organizations to assist in training and education. 


We need to address the abundance of guns by banning assault weapons, imposing waiting periods, and limiting access to guns for young people and individuals at significant risk of harming themselves or engaging in violence. Gun trafficking is a serious issue in this country. Guns are bought in states with less restrictive gun laws and trafficked across state lines, often through the “Iron Pipeline.” We need to expand federal law to crack down on gun trafficking as well as promote better cooperation between federal, state, and local prosecutors. 


We must invest in better policing, provide better de-escalation training, selective bias training, and hold wrongdoers accountable. Dan also supports limiting qualified immunity and creating a national database to ensure bad cops can’t bounce from job to job. We must also allocate more funding to support social workers, diversion programs, and mental health professionals. We need to provide the necessary services and support for domestic disputes and homelessness, which currently occupy a disproportionate amount of police officers’ time. By making these investments, we can allow the police to focus on what they are trained to do: fight crime.

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