Brooklyn DA hopes reform will be model for other prosecutors

In 2017, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made history by becoming the first Latino to serve as a DA in New York State. Now, he hopes to make history again, in a new way.

"My vision for Brooklyn is a safe Brooklyn, but a Brooklyn where people believe the justice system is actually working," said Gonzalez.

His newest initiative to improve the criminal justice system is called Justice 2020. Gonzalez has assembled a committee of 63 members who will give him recommendations for reform. The committee is made up of criminal justice experts, police officers, formerly incarcerated individuals, and clergy, among other community leaders.

"I expect to hear recommendations on bail reform, on speedy trial and discovery reform," Gonzalez said. "We will have some conversations about how do we safely divert people into alternatives from incarceration."

Gonzalez's predecessor, the late Ken Thompson, started a Wrongful Convictions Unit. Since 2014, the DA's office has overturned more than 20 wrongful convictions. The DA's office plans to continue these efforts while working to try and prevent crime from happening in the first place.

"We can't put everyone in jail, it's not fair and it's the most expensive option," Gonzalez said. "A lot of the ways we can hold people accountable and keep our community safe is figuring out how to prevent these individuals from committing more crimes."

The DA's goal is for his office to achieve all of the committee's recommendations by the year 2020. He'd like to see Brooklyn become a national model for what he believes a progressive prosecutor's office should be.