Manhattan’s next district attorney could well be a champion of driving down the city’s jail population.
Most of the Democrats seeking to replace Cy Vance are running distinctly to his left, spotlighting what they say they wouldn't prosecute.
“We must achieve a dramatic reduction of the number of cases that flow through criminal court on a daily basis by declining to prosecute the majority of misdemeanors," public defender Eliza Orlins said at a Color of Change forum.
“In many cases, simply declining to prosecute using the social workers within the office to liaison with the not-for-profit providers is often going to be the better result rather than any diversion practice," State Assemblyman Dan Quart said at a West Side Democrats forum.
Some even want to slash the budget of the office they’re running for.
“This budget is bloated because it thrives on prosecuting poverty and other social inequities," said civil rights attorney Tahanie Aboushi at a The Appeal/NowThis forum.
Others are also pledging deep reforms, from rejecting NYPD-initiated cases like buy-and-bust to seeking to decriminalize sex work.
Advocates say the stakes are especially high for low-income Black and Latino New Yorkers.
“Our country has a growing awareness really of how dangerous police contact is for these communities, how harmful it is to incarcerate them pre-trial, what the damage done to their lives is, because of the decisions of just a single prosecutor," said Claire Stottlemyer, a public defender and member of the Five Boro Defenders.
But a candidate that reform groups criticize for hewing closer to a traditional prosecutor is the race's fundraising leader: former general counsel to the Brooklyn DA, Tali Farhadian Weinstein.
Orlins, Quart and Aboushi toward the left is former state chief deputy attorney general, Alvin Bragg, recently endorsed by Gwen Carr, mother of the late Eric Garner.
Left of center are Lucy Lang and Diana Florence, former prosecutors under Vance who do support diversion efforts.
Rounding out the field is criminal justice lawyer Liz Crotty, who perhaps stands out because she doesn’t self-identify as progressive.
The big asterisk of the race remains Vance, who hasn't said if he’ll run for another term and isn’t actively fundraising.
But Vance is pursuing Donald Trump’s financial records, and success would boost his already-high profile, should he seek re-election.