Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's chief prosecutor has argued for critical race theory ideology to be integrated into the criminal justice system as part of a "new paradigm of prosecution," while claiming criminals are not necessarily "bad dudes," Fox News Digital found.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Meg Reiss was brought in to Bragg's office in January 2022. Reiss has repeatedly said she is trying to "actually change… an understanding that people have about prosecution," including their views about violence.
"So one of the first things [to] do is change the language: ‘the bad dude.’ What does that mean? What are the circumstances of that person coming into the criminal justice system in the first place? And what is the background to that person?" she said in a 2017 interview unearthed by Fox News Digital.
She continued, "And is there a solution, alternative solution for that person other than being incarcerated? So, I mean, that's one of the fundamental places we have to start is what does that mean, ‘bad dude?'"
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As part of Reiss' goals to radically change the criminal justice system, Reiss created the Institute for Innovation on Prosecution in 2016 at John Jay College, which collaborates with prosecution offices, including the Manhattan DA, to bring about racial equity reforms rooted in critical race theory ideology. She left in 2018, and was listed as a leader in numerous reports relating to their agenda.
The institute believes in an ideologically driven approach to prosecution that takes into account historical factors. For example, the Institute argued in a report, signed with Reiss' name, that prosecutors must focus on "acknowledging our nation’s shameful history of slavery and racism which continues to cloud the criminal justice system."
As part of this racial equity mission, the IIP suggested prosecutors should intentionally undermine the charges police officers bring forward.
"Your charging authority gives you the power to check and counterbalance some police actions," IIP said. "Recognize the systems that are upstream from your office that may perpetuate racial disparities in the justice system, and take steps in your own office to resist those trends."
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Bragg's chief has said she believes all prosecutors have a "responsibility" to fix "mass incarceration," the term for what critics believe is overuse of detention centers that disproportionately affects minorities, even before they've been convicted of an offense.
IIP, accordingly, suggested that prosecutors should only "use all available evidence to prove the case in criminal court" for "serious offenses," and should selectively choose not to enforce the law on particular crimes.
However, Reiss holds a seemingly different perspective when it comes to police officers' allegations of misconduct or excessive force. She said, prosecutors should step into a harsher role on police-related probes to combat "the process... stymied by systemically racist policies and practices."
"One conclusion seems inescapable: The path towards accountability... must... confront the injustices that arise from systematic racism, both past and present," she said.
She lamented the "1,000 lives… lost at the hands of U.S. law enforcement every year" and criticized "the public, the media and, often, jury pools [who] are inclined to offer the benefit of the doubt to law enforcement while criminalizing those killed."
Another IIP report, listed under Reiss' and Bragg's names, stated there should be a prosecution unit set up solely to focus on charging officers.
Regarding defendants, Reiss has said, "Critical to this shift is recognizing the humanity of each person in front of them and embracing a restorative approach." Restorative approaches find alternatives to incarceration.
It appeared that Reiss believes a "restorative" approach can address some instances of assault.
"We know with our assault cases, it's most often with people who know each other. So we… really think restorative practice is the answer now," she said.
"Restorative practices" is the antidote, so to speak, to the "systemic racism" that critical race theorists claim plagues America, Mike Gonzalez of the Heritage Foundation said.
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The policies advocated by prosecutors such as Reiss are believed by critics to be catastrophic to public safety. Reiss denies her policies to scale back on incarceration affect crime rates.
A spokesperson for Bragg's office released a statement to Fox News Digital, which said, "Reiss is a former homicide prosecutor who has worked collaboratively with all stakeholders throughout the criminal justice system and has been in public service for decades. She is a widely respected attorney who ensures every case is evaluated based on the facts and the law."
Bragg's office has been in the spotlight as it leads the hush money probe that could lead to an indictment of former President Donald Trump. If Bragg's office were to bring charges, it would mark the first time a U.S. president, former or current, had ever been charged with a crime. Trump has accused Bragg, a Democrat, of political bias against him.