Richard Brown’s announcement that he’ll retire this yr after seven phrases because the Queens district legal professional means town is losing arguably its last prosecutor who all the time understood that his essential job was really to prosecute criminals.
His retirement was extensively anticipated: At 86, he’s been slowed by the consequences of Parkinson’s. Three candidates, all operating to his left, had already entered this yr’s race.
Which means he’ll seemingly be succeeded by a self-styled reformer extra excited about a “progressive” agenda and discovering methods to not go after criminals. And unwilling to problem even ridiculous progressive proposals.
Brown offered one last style of that independence with a column Wednesday poking holes within the plan to shut Rikers Island via mass releases, alternative-sentencing packages and the development of latest, smaller jails throughout town.
Rikers, he famous, not homes low-level offenders. The jail’s remaining inhabitants consists of some 1,800 individuals serving jail sentences, 1,000 parole violators and 2,000 no-bail detainees. The 3,000 or so detained on bail have information averaging 5 felony arrests and one prior felony conviction.
In quick, getting the inhabitants right down to 5,000, because the closure plans require, means “letting career criminals out.” Nor does town have a contingency plan for dealing with a bigger jail inhabitants if crime heads again up.
Since taking the DA job in 1991, throughout the period of record-high crime, Brown has remained centered on prison justice somewhat than pandering to fads. Early on, he refused to permit these charged with felonies to plead to lesser costs merely to expedite instances.
To be clear, he was a lot forward-looking: Brown launched his personal alternative-sentencing packages, in addition to such reform initiatives as an workplace to assist immigrants and one of many earliest domestic-violence-crime bureaus.
But he all the time saved his priorities centered. And he has cause to be proud that Queens boasts town’s highest conviction fee.
Though well-earned, DA Brown’s retirement is one thing all New Yorkers ought to remorse. That will certainly grow to be much more apparent as soon as he’s left workplace.