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Reforming Justice: A Conversation with a Former Prosecutor


With calls for police reform reverberating across the United States following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, criticism and outrage have focused on the ways police departments have functioned for years. Like many complicated problems, true reform in policing and justice will involve several layers of government, the work of nonprofits, and the support of the private sector. Alvin Bragg, a law professor, former prosecutor, and current candidate for Manhattan District Attorney, zeroes in on the role the legal system plays in all of this and what New York City has been doing — and should be doing — to enact real change.

ABOUT OUR GUEST:

Alvin Bragg: A son of Central Harlem and a husband and father raising two children there, Alvin Bragg has spent the better part of two decades in the courtroom, standing up to the powerful and fighting for justice. Most recently, Alvin served as the Chief Deputy Attorney General in New York State where he oversaw some of the office’s biggest cases, including suing Harvey Weinstein and his company for the existence of a hostile work environment; challenging the Trump administration over the census for its inclusion of a citizenship question; and bringing significant criminal charges in bribery, securities fraud, and Medicaid fraud matters.

Previously Alvin served as Executive Deputy Attorney General (EDAG) for Social Justice and organized and served as the first Chief of a special unit that investigated police-involved killings. He won significant settlement agreements in matters concerning discriminatory redlining, tenant harassment, wage and hour violations, unlawful discrimination by employers based on applicants’ criminal history records, unlawful business practices by health insurance companies. He also led an investigation revealing that only three percent of the approximately 2.4 million “Stop and Frisk” stops by the NYPD between 2009 and 2012 resulted in convictions. Only .1 percent of the stops resulted in convictions for a violent crime. Prior to the Attorney General’s Office, Alvin served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. He successfully prosecuted corrupt politicians, both Democrat and Republican. He also obtained trial verdicts convicting the owner of a multi-million dollar business for laundering millions of dollars for an international drug cartel; a lawyer for mortgage fraud involving millions of dollars of losses to financial institutions; an FBI agent for making false statements; and individuals blocking a reproductive health facility in violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

Alvin is now a Visiting Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Racial Justice Project at New York Law School where his research and coursework focus on the intersection of criminal law and civil rights, prosecutorial discretion and accountability, and the functions of state Attorneys General. Alvin earned his A.B. in Government (cum laude, general studies) from Harvard and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He was on the first-place team in the Ames Moot Court Competition and was an editor for the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. Alvin is a member of the Board of Directors of The Legal Aid Society, a former member of the Board of Directors of the New York Urban League, and a Sunday School teacher at the Abyssinian Baptist Church. He lives in Harlem with his wife Jamila and two children.


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ABOUT THE HOSTS

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Cheryl Cohen Effron

Cheryl Cohen Effron spent most of her career as a New York-based real estate developer. Ms. Effron left full-time real estate work to dedicate her time to tri-sector (government, non-profit and corporate) solutions for urban issues. Ms. Effron is currently board chair of Greater NY, a non-profit she co-founded during the financial crisis in 2009 which pairs civic leaders in the business world with the heads of non-profit organizations in two-year one-on-one strategic partnerships.

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Jamie Rubin

Jamie Rubin is a veteran of federal and state government and a longtime investment professional. He served in the Clinton Administration, then spent 15 years on Wall Street as an investment banker and partner with two global private equity firms. Jamie rejoined the public sector in 2012. Jamie is now CEO of Meridiam NA, a developer of large infrastructure projects in the US and Canada. Jamie is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School. He and his wife, author and podcaster Gretchen Rubin, live in New York City with their daughters and a dog.