Manhattan DA candidate Alvin Bragg outlines vision for modern justice

In three weeks, attorney Alvin Bragg's life may be much busier. The Harlem native could become the next Manhattan district attorney on Election Day, which is Nov. 2. It is one of the most high-profile prosecution positions in the country.

If he wins, he would become only the third person to serve in the position since 1975.

"I'm a lifelong Manhattanite, so I've lived through almost all of that history," Bragg said. "So I certainly understand the significance of this moment."

A Harvard Law School graduate, a civil rights lawyer, and a former federal prosecutor, Bragg would replace Cyrus Vance Jr., who is retiring.  

The DA's office has been investigating former President Donald Trump's business dealings. So whoever wins the election is going to be inheriting the Trump investigation. How does he feel about that?

"Fortunately, I've worked on a number of complex, white-collar matters that were quite prominent," Bragg said. 

One of them was at the state Attorney General's Office, which successfully sued the Trump Foundation for illegally using campaign funds.

The DA's case is going directly after the former president himself. He said he wouldn't back down.

"I plan to follow the facts wherever they go," Bragg said. "I will not be intimidated."

The next Manhattan DA will also face the rise in shootings and other violent crimes and the ongoing debate about decarceration and bail reform. Many in law enforcement say bail reform is part of the crime surge.

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"First, we have to focus on the data," Bragg said. "The NYPD's own data doesn't substantiate the claim that bail reform caused an increase in crime."

Bragg said one of his signature initiatives would be to look for alternatives to incarceration for low-level crimes, especially when they are driven by drugs or mental illness.

"If it's a petty larceny and that's motivated by someone's addiction, then we need to be getting that person addiction services rather than sending them to incarceration on Rikers," Bragg said. "Right now, we're not really offering it in sort of a robust way." 

He said the DA's office, under his command, would also prioritize cases on gun trafficking and sexual assaults.

"I don't want to continue the status quo," Bragg said. "I want to actually have real enduring public safety."