Bruce Golding, New York Post, August 31, 2021
District attorneys across the Big Apple last year declined to prosecute accused felons at nearly twice the rate of 2019 — letting more than 6,500 suspects off the hook, The Post has learned.
Prosecutors dropped all charges in 16.9 percent of the 38,635 felony cases that were closed in New York City during 2020, according to data compiled by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
The year before, that rate was just 8.7 percent and the average for 2016 to 2019 was an even lower 8 percent, the statistics show.
Even though far fewer cases were disposed of last year, the 6,522 defendants whose charges were dropped exceeded the 5,985 who weren’t prosecuted in 2019.
The total number of cases closed in 2020 plunged by a massive 44.1 percent last year amid court closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic — down from 69,119 the year before.
A law enforcement source said there were “a lot of layers to the problem,” including veteran prosecutors retiring or leaving for other jobs and “inexperienced [prosecutors] and cops making it harder to do trials,” as well as the political nature of DAs’ jobs.
“Plus, you throw in a bucket of ‘woke’ and no one is getting prosecuted.”
The borough with the highest number of felony cases that weren’t prosecuted last year was the Bronx, where DA Darcel Clark dumped 2,408, or 28.5 percent.
Another 2,365 cases, or 28 percent, were dismissed by judges, helping push the rate at which defendants were convicted and sentenced in the Bronx to a dismal 27.4 percent, down from 44.2 percent in 2019.
But that number was even lower in Brooklyn, where it dropped to just 21.1 percent last year from 41.5 percent in 2019.
DA Eric Gonzalez declined to prosecute 2,206 cases, or 17.8 percent, and judges dismissed more than twice as many: 5,335 or 42.9 percent.
In Manhattan, outgoing DA Cyrus Vance Jr. declined to prosecute 11.7 percent of the cases disposed of last year, up from 7.6 percent in 2019.
Last year’s increase in the proportion of cases abandoned by prosecutors was also accompanied by steep decreases in the number of convictions and sentences of incarceration, the statistics show.
Just 7.4 percent of defendants 18 and older were convicted of felonies and 10.5 percent were convicted of misdemeanors, compared to 12.1 percent and 17.1 percent, respectively, in 2019.
Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD detective sergeant and adjunct professor at the city’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, was outraged by the situation, saying, “There’s so many people that will lose their lives because of that.”