Interviews with a top deputy to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg have surfaced showing his chief prosecutor touting the office’s ability to hand down sentences for violent crimes that do not result in prison time.
Fox News reports that Meg Reiss, who joined the DA’s office in January 2022, has spoken favorably of criminals who dodged hefty sentences under Bragg’s watch, adding many are not “bad dudes” who would benefit from incarceration. At the same time, she has criticized juries for giving the benefit of the doubt to police officers’ testimonies in court.
Reiss highlighted a case where her office, using “restorative justice” practices, was able to help a defendant facing a manslaughter charge avoid any prison time at all:
“It was an incident between two people that knew each other very well. And it was sort of… a fight that ended up with one person dying and the person who was charged had substance misuse issues and other things. And going through the outcome in the case, it just seemed appropriate for restorative practice rather than a carceral sentence,” Reiss said.
In other interviews, the office’s chief prosecutor has advocated against jail time for criminals in possession of illegal firearms. Coincidentally, illegal possession of a firearm in New York state is a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine — the same level of charges that DA Bragg is bringing against former President Donald Trump.
Before joining Bragg’s office, Reiss founded the Institute for Innovation on Prosecution (IIP) at John Jay College, an organization that instructs progressive prosecutors to undermine or weaken charges brought forward by local police. The IIP advocates for a “racial equity lens” to counteract perceived systemic biases in the judicial system.
In a statement to Fox News, the DA’s office defended Reiss: “Meg 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.”