Initiatives Will Include Significant Changes to the Office’s Parole Policies and Robust Participation in Parole Proceedings, Including Recommending Release After Defendants Serve the Minimum Sentence as Default Starting Position for Cases That Ended in Guilty Plea
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced the creation of the first dedicated Post-Conviction Justice Bureau in the country. It will be anchored by the nationally recognized Conviction Review Unit and include two new Units: A Parole and Clemency Unit charged with implementing new policies governing the Office’s participation in parole and clemency proceedings for incarcerated individuals, and a Sealing Unit to encourage and facilitate applications to seal criminal convictions.
Instead of Traditional Cleaning Assignments, Individuals May Take Educational or Job Training Courses to Fulfill Their Court-Mandated Community Service; New Approach Aims at Creating Positive Turning Point and Meaningful Engagement
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “I am committed to holding offenders accountable in ways that are meaningful because putting individuals on a positive track reduces recidivism and promotes public safety. I’ve now expanded this approach to court-mandated community service. Our new Community Resource Empowerment Center, which embodies the core principals of my Justice 2020 plan, provides an array of opportunities for people to better their lives and end their criminal cases with tools that would help them succeed. This will help keep Brooklyn safe and strengthen community trust.”
Defendants Allegedly Plotted to Shoot Rivals in Flatbush, East Flatbush and Canarsie, Two Individuals Shot and Killed, Four Others Shot and Injured
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, today announced that 21 alleged members of two subsets of the violent Folk Nation street gang have been variously charged in a 65-count indictment with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, weapons possession and other charges in connection with multiple shootings throughout Brooklyn that left two young men dead and four others injured.
Defendants Include President and Treasurer of Board of Directors and Office Manager
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants allegedly conspired to corrupt the process by which eligible prospective tenants could have access to affordable housing in Brooklyn, and then used their illegal proceeds to fund lavish lifestyles. Their alleged greed cheated people who were entitled to apartments that instead went to those willing to pay bribes. My office, working with our law enforcement partners, will continue to root out fraud and corruption to ensure that New York’s scarce affordable housing opportunities are not corrupted by fraudsters trying to make a profit, but distributed fairly and honestly.”
Thirty-Six Handguns Purchased During 10-Month-Long Undercover Police Operation; Second Indictment Charges Three Individuals with Narcotics Sales
District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “The guns that were recovered as part of this investigation are exactly the types of weapons used to commit violence in our communities. These indictments reflect our continued commitment to focusing on drivers of crime, maintaining public safety and stopping the influx of guns into Brooklyn from Southern states with lax gun laws. I thank the police and my prosecutors for their joint efforts in this case.”
Defendant, a Leader of the Conspiracy, is 24th Individual to be Sentenced for His Role
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “I hope today’s substantial prison sentence – and the additional sentences given to each codefendant – sends an unambiguous message: out-of-state gun runners who threaten our communities with deadly weapons will be found, will be prosecuted and will be brought to justice for their crimes. My Office will continue to focus resources on those responsible for driving violent crime as part of my commitment to keeping Brooklyn safe and strengthening community trust.”
Revamping Agency’s Data and Analytical Capacity Will Improve its Practice and Allow for Better Decision-Making, Greater Accountability and Transparency; Program Fulfills one of Justice 2020’s Recommendations
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG), today announced a Data and Transparency Initiative that will improve the DA’s Office’s ability to track and analyze its data, allowing for better evaluation of prosecutors’ decision-making, enhanced transparency and an increased ability to assess the effectiveness of its policies. The partnership represents an important step in fulfilling the recommendation of DA Gonzalez’s Justice 2020 Committee to “establish a data/analytics team to drive metrics, best practices and reform.”
Treating Incarceration as Last Resort and Partnering with Communities, Justice 2020 Signals Unprecedented Effort to Drastically Reshape Prosecutorial Agency
District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “Justice 2020 will reshape the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office into a model of progressive prosecution that keeps the public safe and strengthens community trust by ensuring fairness and equal justice for all. We will move away from over-reliance on incarceration, engage all stakeholders as partners in justice, focus resources on those who do the most harm and make my Office more strategic and mission-driven. I am deeply grateful to all of the people, many of whom have personal experience within the system – who helped develop this comprehensive blueprint, which we have already begun implementing. As we continue to reap the benefits of historic decreases in crime here in Brooklyn and across the country, now is the time to focus on reforming injustices in the system that have led to over-reliance on incarceration and a lack of trust in the criminal justice system. In many cases, incarceration does not keep us safer, and I am committed to shifting to ways of holding people accountable and increasing public safety that don’t rely on incarceration as the default option.”
Erased Dozens of Old Marijuana Possession Convictions for First Time in State History; Vacated Over 1,400 Open Warrants for Offenses His Office No Longer Prosecutes
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today moved to vacate 1,422 outstanding misdemeanor warrants stemming from failure to appear in court on misdemeanor marijuana possession cases, and also consented to defense motions to erase 28 past convictions for misdemeanor marijuana possession. Vacating those convictions – which is part of the District Attorney’s Justice 2020 action plan – represents the first time in New York State history that a criminal record for marijuana possession was erased under a DA’s initiative.
Murders Dropped Below 100 for the First Time Since Record-Keeping Began;
Admissions to Rikers Island on Misdemeanor Cases Declined by Over 43%
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “In Brooklyn, we are leading the way in implementing initiatives that strengthen trust in the criminal justice system while keeping communities safe. Working with the NYPD, we are continuing to see declines in most crimes, with another historic low in homicides. And we are showing our commitment to enhancing fairness and equity by reducing reliance on incarceration and offering more opportunities for diversion. I look forward to achieving additional meaningful reforms in the coming year as we execute my Justice 2020 action plan and build a truly progressive and modern District Attorney’s Office.”
Defendant’s Confession Was Used at Trial Even Though It Contained a False Fact – That Victim Was Stabbed, not Shot; Detective Notes That Could Have Helped Defense Were Not Disclosed
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that following a thorough investigation by his Conviction Review Unit (CRU), he will move to vacate the murder conviction against Bladimil Arroyo, 39, who has been incarcerated since 2001. The investigation found that the defendant was deprived of a fair trial because the only direct evidence against him consisted of a confession that included a false fact likely transmitted to him by police – that the victim was stabbed rather than shot – and certain detective notes were not disclosed to the defense. Arroyo is the 25th individual whose conviction has been vacated by Brooklyn’s CRU since it was established in 2014.
In Effort to Stem Opioid Dependency, Pre-Arraignment Diversion Will Provide Services from Time of Arrest; Those who Participate Will Have Their Misdemeanor Charges Dismissed
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced the launch of a pre-arraignment diversion program to assist individuals who suffer from drug dependency and misuse. Under Project CLEAR (Collaborative Legal Engagement Assistance Response), individuals arrested for misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance will be offered the opportunity to receive treatment and other community-based services before their initial court appearance. If they meaningfully participate, the DA’s Office will decline prosecution of their cases before they ever appear in court and their arrest record will be sealed.
Committee of Criminal Justice Experts, Reformers and Community Leaders Will Advise on Reforms and Innovative Approaches to Keep Brooklyn Safe and Strengthening Community Trust in the Criminal Justice System
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced a groundbreaking initiative aimed at keeping Brooklyn safe and strengthening community trust in the criminal justice system by ensuring fairness and equal justice for all. Justice 2020 will rely initially on a Launch Committee consisting of criminal justice reform experts, defense groups, service providers, law enforcement, formerly incarcerated individuals, clergy and community leaders.