End Excessive Punishment
We will consider each case individually to find an outcome that holds people accountable and addresses the underlying reason the person committed the crime. We will reject the instinct to be overly harsh in sentencing, and consider the lifelong collateral consequences of conviction even for minor crimes when making decisions on case outcomes. We must end not just excessively long sentences, but also unnecessary sentences and convictions.
To do that, Tess will:
Dismiss cases where there is no public safety benefit to prosecution. Tess will presumptively decline to prosecute crimes related to sex work, turnstile-jumping, possession of small amounts of drugs, misdemeanor trespass, unlicensed vending, and low-level driving offenses, to name a few.
Expand the use of diversion programs. By expanding Bronx Community Solutions and similar pre-arraignment diversion programs, people arrested for nonviolent misdemeanors and low-level felonies will receive the benefits of these programs instead of convictions and jail time. Dismissing and diverting cases will reduce the number of people and families hampered for life by criminal convictions, and it will help people access needed resources.
Expand the path toward restorative justice. Prosecutors tend to act as gatekeepers for this option, but all victims should have the choice to pursue restorative justice. Tess will advocate for the expansion of and financial support for community-based restorative justice programs and offer victims the choice to pursue restorative justice.
Seek reasonable, public-safety-focused sentences. Incarceration is often counterproductive to public safety. As Bronx District Attorney, Tess will direct assistant district attorneys to end calls for disproportionate and extreme sentences, including life without parole.