The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has successfully taken steps to dismiss 188 felony convictions related to the work of eight discredited New York Police Department officers.
The convictions in question date all the way back to 2001, but District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement that his office no longer had confidence in them.
“New Yorkers should know that everyone is acting with the utmost integrity in pursuing equal justice under the law,” Bragg said in the statement. “We cannot allow unconstitutional beliefs to continue to interfere with the lives of New Yorkers.”
The convictions, which disproportionately impacted young black men, were uniformly rejected Thursday morning at a brief hearing in Manhattan criminal court.
The dismissal of the convictions was long overdue. Last year, a group of public defenders and advocacy groups wrote letters to city district attorneys identifying 20 different police officers convicted of crimes and two guilty of misconduct. The crimes the officers committed ranged from perjury to unlawful searches to selling controlled substances.
In Manhattan alone, the prosecutor’s office is reviewing some 1,100 convictions that have now been called into question. The Brooklyn district attorney said earlier this year it wanted to expunge 378 convictions, while the Queens district attorney sought to expunge 60 convictions last year and the Bronx district attorney sought 250 convictions based on the testimony of a single discredited person. brought officer.
Advocates and prosecutors may continue to review convictions related to the work or testimony from discredited officers may continue in the coming weeks and months.
No one convicted in the 188 cases cleared today in Manhattan is currently in prison, though some of those convicted once were. A significant number of the convictions in question were due to possession of marijuana or traffic violations, particularly young men and young black men. The NYPD has a long, documented history of corruption and racism within its ranks.
According to reports from The New York Times, some of the people whose convictions were vacated on Thursday may not know. A Harlem neighborhood organization said it had reached only one of seven people it had tried to reach out to about the layoffs.
As Mr Bragg noted in his statement, the news could be life-changing for people trying to find jobs, housing or access educational opportunities without the weight of a previous criminal conviction.