“JUSTICE 2020”

May 17, 2018 at 4:45 am

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez joins us to discuss the cutting edge “Justice 2020” initiative. It’s how he intends to keep Brooklyn safe and strengthen community trust in the criminal justice system through legal reform.

Aired May 16, 2018.

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>>> POLICING AND THE ROLE OF THE
COURTS IN BROOKLYN HAVE AN
OVERHAUL.
THE NEW DISTRICT ATTORNEY ERIC
GONZALEZ HAS LAUNCHED THE 2020
JUSTICE INITIATIVE PULLING THE
BEST AND BRIGHTEST MINDS IN THE
CITY ALL WITH THE COMMON GOAL IN
MIND, IMPROVEMENT.
OVER 60 PEOPLE WILL JOIN
SUBCOMMITTEES THIS YEAR COMING
UP WITH NEW IDEAS AND EVERYTHING
FROM BAIL REFORM TO THE WAY DRUG
ADDICTS ARE TREATED EVEN DATA
AND TRAEFRPTCY WILL BE UNDER
SCRUTINY WHEN IT COMES TO
POLICING AND PROSECUTIONS WHEN
THEY'RE ALL REVIEWED.
SOME MAY BE ASKING WHY THE
DISTRICT ATTORNEY WANTS TO FIX
HE WHAT PEOPLE SAY IS NOT
BROKEN.
THE BUROUGH IS THE SAFEST IT'S
WITHIN.
IN THE DECADES LOPPING DROP IN
IME IS THE ENVY OF CITIES ACROSS
THE NATION.
YET SUPPORTERS OF THE PLAN SAY
THERE IS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT.
JOINING ME TO PLAIN THIS
EXCLUSIVE DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF
BROOKLYN.
ERIC GONZALEZ JOINS WITH US
INSIGHT HOW THE NEW EFFORT WILL
WORK.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY, NICE TO HAVE
YOU HERE WITH US.
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
>> LET ME START OFF WITH THE
FIRST NOTION THAT I JUST
MENTIONED HERE.
THE STATISTICS HAVE BEEN VERY
ENCOURAGING.
OBVIOUSLY YOU ALWAYS WANT TO SEE
THEM GET BETTER IN TERMS OF THE
INCIDENTS OF CRIMES.
BUT CLEARLY WHAT IS BEING DONE
IN KING'S COUNTY AND BROOKLYN
HAS BEEN TRUMPETED AS A MEANS
TOS SUCCESS IN TERMS OF FIGHTING
CRIME.
WHY THEN DID YOU FEEL THAT WHAT
YOU WANTED TO DO IS TAKE A WHOLE
NEW LOOK AT EVERYTHING, THIS
2020 INITIATIVE AND MAKE
SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IF
WARRANTED.
>> YOU KNOW, WE HAVE HELPED LEAD
THE WAY TO SAFETY IN THE CITY
AND BROOKLYN.
THE DECREASE IN VIOLENT CRIME IN
PARTICULAR IN BROOKLYN IS
STAGGERING ESPECIALLY FOR PEOPLE
LIKE MYSELF WHO LIVED THERE, YOU
KNOW, MY ENTIRE LIFE.
AND YOU KNOW, REMEMBER WHAT
BROOKLYN WAS LIKE IN THE 80s AND
THE '90s.
SO WE HAVE DONE AN INCREDIBLE
JOB IN MAKING SURE THAT BROOKLYN
REMAINS A SAFE PLACE AND GETS
BETTER AND STRONGER.
BUT IN ORDER TO REACH AND TO
CONTINUE PROGRESS AND MAKING
SURE WE ARE SAFE WE NEED TO SORT
OF FIGURE OUT HOW WE BRING THE
COMMUNITY TO TRUST LAW
ENFORCEMENT.
AND THERE'S BEEN A DIVIDE, YOU
KNOW, IN MANY PARTS OF THE CITY.
WE'VE SEEN IT ACROSS THE
COUNTRY, WHERE COMMUNITY AT
TIMES DOES NOT FEEL LAW
ENFORCEMENT IS -- HAS BEST
INTERESTS AT HEART.
AND IN BROOKLYN WE ARE AT A
GREAT PLACE.
WE ARE SAFER.
BUSINESS IS BOOMING IN THE
BUROUGH.
FAMILIES ARE MOVING IN.
WE'RE GROWING EXPONENTIALLY IN
BROCK LYNN AND SAFER THAN
BEFORE.
SO WE CAN TALK ABOUT ISSUES OF
REFORM NOW WE COULDN'T DO NO THE
'90s OR THEATE 80s.
>> I MENTIONED LOOKING AT
PUTTING TOGETHER TEAMS.
WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE COMING FROM
AND WHAT IS THE MISSION GOING TO
BE?
>> THE MISSION IS SIMPLE.
I'M THE BROOKLYN D.A. AND
RESPONSIBLE FOR KEEPING BROOKLYN
SAFE.
BUT I'M ALSO RESPONSIBLE FOR
STRENGTHENING TRUST IN OUR
JUSTICE SYSTEM.
AND I BELIEVE YOU CAN ONLY DO
THAT BY ENSURING FAIRNESS AND
EQUAL JUSTICE FOR EVERYONE.
WE START ADD TREND IN BROOKLYN
ABOUT THREE YEARS AGO WHERE OUR
APPROACH TO KEEPING BROOKLYN
SAFE WAS BASED ON FOCUSING IN ON
THE VERY SMALL -- IT'S REALLY A
VERY SMALL PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE.
WE ESTIMATED IT TO BE ABOUT 0.5%
OF PEOPLE WHO ARE VIOLENT
DRIVERS OF CRIME.
WE WORK CLOSELY WITH THE POLICE
DEPARTMENT TO IDENTIFY WHO THESE
PEOPLE ARE AND TO MAKE SURE ANY
TIME THEY COME INTO THE SYSTEM
THAT IN RE CASES ARE TAKEN VERY
SERIOUSLY THAT THEY DON'T GET
BREAKS THAT AREN'T DESERVING.
WE ESTIMATE THIS SMALL
HANDLEDFUL ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR
70% OF VITAMIN CRIME.
>> THOSE ARE STAGGERING NUMBERS.
>> THESE ARE SHOOTERS, ROBBERS,
BURGLARS, THESE ARE THE PEOPLE
WHO WILL HURT OUR FAMILIES.
THE EFFORT HAS BEEN OVER THE
LAST FEW YEARS -- I THINK THIS
IS HOW WE HAVE DRIVEN DOWN CRIME
IN BUROUGH TO FOCUS IN ON THEM.
AND NOT JUST BE REACTIVE WHEN
THEY COMMIT A CRIME BUT TO PAY
ATTENTION TO THEM AND FOCUS IN
ON THEM.
AND WE'VE BUILT CASES THAT HAVE
BEEN PREVIOUSLY CASE CLOSED
BECAUSE WE UNDERSTAND THEY WERE
THE RESPONSIBLE PARTIES.
>> BAIL REFORM.
WE HAVE HEARD A LOT OF TALK
ABOUT BAIL REFORM.
WHAT'S YOUR SENSE OF WHAT NEEDS
TO BE DONE AND WHAT CAN BE DONE
IN BROOKLYN?
>> IT'S VERY SIMPLE.
BAIL HAS BEEN MEANT HISTORICALLY
IN OUR STATE TO SECURE SOMEONE'S
RETURN TO COURT.
IT'S NOT MEANT TO DETAIN SOMEONE
HUE THINK IS GUILTY, AS IS AN
EFFORT TO CLOSE RIKERS ISLAND,
AS THERE IS AN EFFORT TO MAKE
SURE THERE IS MORE FAIRNESS IN
THE JUSTICE SYSTEM.
WE LOOK AT WHO IS ON OUR RIKERS
ISLAND AND 75% OF THE PEOPLE ON
RIKERS ISLAND ARE NOT THERE BUS
THEY WERE ACTUALLY CONVICTED OF
A CRIME BUT BECAUSE THEY HAVE A
FUTURE TRIAL COMING UP.
SO PRETRIAL DETENTION.
OUT THAT HAVE GROUP A FULL
90% -- 89% TO NIEPT% ARE EITHER
BLACK OR HISPANIC WHO ARE SIMPLY
THERE BECAUSE ANY COULD NOT
AFFORD A SMALL AMOUNT OF BAIL.
IT HAS BECOME AN ISSUE OF, YOU
KNOW, RACIAL, SOCIAL JUSTICE.
BUT IT'S ALSO AN ISSUE THAT THE
SYSTEM SEEMINGLY HAS BECOME A
SYSTEM FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN AND
CAN'T AFFORD BAIL.
I'M ADVOCATING THAT OUR BAIL
SYSTEM BE CHANGED.
THAT OUR BAIL SYSTEM HOLD PEOPLE
IN WHO ARE A THREAT TO PUBLIC
SAFETY BUT PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT A
THREAT TO PUBLIC SAFETY THEY
SHOULD NOT BE KEPT IN PRETRIAL.
>> SO WE'RE GOING TO BRING YOU
BACK TOMORROW AND WE'RE GOING TO
CONTINUE OUR CONVERSATION WITH
THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY.
AND WHAT THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES
IN THE COMING MONTHS AHEAD.
HE WILL BE BECOME.
I HOPE YOU JOIN US ALSO.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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