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.
LINKS RELATED TO THIS EPISODE:
- Alvin Bragg
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- Read more from Alvin Bragg on Medium
- The New York Daily News: The tax on being black in America: Prosecutors must come down hard on the white woman who called the cops on a black birdwatcher
- The Washington Post: Eric Garner is proof that we need to reform laws on excessive force
- The New York Times: The N.Y.P.D. Spends $6 Billion a Year. Proposals to Defund it Want to Cut $1 Billion.