America’s justice system is changing – and Manhattan needs to set the national example. Here’s how Tali will approach building a fairer, safer system for New Yorkers:
FAIRNESS FROM THE START
Tali believes prosecutors must do less to do more. The district attorney must lighten the heavy hand of the criminal justice system by foregoing prosecutions that send people into the system unnecessarily and unfairly, and that perpetuate racial injustice. Then, prosecutors must use their resources to pursue the cases that legitimately promote public safety. As a national expert and professor of criminal justice reform at the local level, and drawing on her experience as part of the executive leadership team implementing reform at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, Tali believes in a DA’s office that is ethical, fair, and advances equity for all New Yorkers.
Gun violence poses an unacceptable threat to public health and safety. As a former federal prosecutor, Tali took on gun violence, including murders, and understands the district attorney must have a fearless, diverse and complex plan to stop this ongoing threat. To help execute this plan, Tali will appoint a Gun Violence Coordinator on her Executive Leadership Team, to work across divisions and bureaus directing and monitoring firearms-related investigation, prosecutions, and initiatives.
Gender-based violence – crime directed at people because of their biological sex or gender identity – remains an unacceptable crisis across the country and in New York City. Significantly underreported and under prosecuted, our criminal justice system routinely fails the victims of these crimes. While law enforcement cannot address this crisis alone, we must do our part and do it better. As district attorney, Tali will transform DANY’s response to gender-based violence and integrate her approach into the broader agenda of criminal justice reform. This starts with establishing a new bureau reporting directly and regularly to her: The Bureau of Gender-Based Violence (BGBV).
Domestic violence was already a public health crisis in Manhattan before COVID-19, exacting a terrible physical, psychological, and generational toll on so many vulnerable people. The movement restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus made the domestic violence crisis worse, trapping women and children in abusive situations. Tali believes the prevalence and stubborn persistence of domestic violence in Manhattan demands a focused and sustained response.
Sexual violence – including sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse – is pervasive, underreported, and under-prosecuted. Victims of these crimes report a lack of confidence in the criminal justice system. As district attorney, Tali is committed to a wholesale transformation of the borough’s response to sexual violence.
Tali immigrated to the U.S. as a child and became an American citizen when she was 19 years old. Ensuring fairness, safety, and justice for the approximately 230,000 non-citizens who live in Manhattan is a top priority for her, and an extension of her life’s work as a champion for immigrant communities. As General Counsel in the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Tali led the team that successfully sued I.C.E. over the agency's policy of arresting non-citizens in and around state courthouses. Together with the New York State attorney general, Tali directed the litigation establishing that the policy causes non-citizens to be fearful of law enforcement and thereby interferes with local prosecution’s core mission. She also supervised a variety of other matters involving fairness to non-citizens in Brooklyn.
Hate crimes are intolerable. They go beyond harm to a specific victim, creating an atmosphere of exclusion and terror in targeted communities. From her own upbringing and life experiences, Tali knows the sting of discrimination and will stand up for those who experience it. The recent surge of anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York is unprecedented; others have been targeted based on race, sexual orientation, and more. The uptick in hate crimes related to misconceptions about the coronavirus pandemic against Asian-Americans and others is equally alarming, as is the spreading of misinformation and hate in internet subcultures and on social media.
ASIAN COMMUNITY OUTREACH
The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt New York’s Asian community a double blow: a rise in violent and hateful attacks against the community, alongside severe economic loss, dislocation, and unemployment. We have finally begun the slow process of reopening New York City after months of lockdown, but in what should be a hopeful period, Asian New Yorkers fear for their safety and are experiencing intense isolation and instability. As district attorney, Tali will work alongside lawmakers and community partners to send the clear message that racism, bigotry, and hate do not win in New York City. Hate crimes must be addressed with the urgency and moral responsibility they deserve. Tali feels strongly that the district attorney has a critical role in putting all of Manhattan’s neighborhoods and communities on a path to safety and economic prosperity, including ensuring that hate crimes have no place here.
Economic crimes may not be as visible as the proverbial dead body, but they are widespread and devastating. An individual intent on committing a crime can often do more harm with a computer and an internet connection, or a pen and paper, than with a knife or fist. In fact, more than a quarter of felony indictments currently filed in Manhattan now involve a cyber component, and more than 35,500 New York residents were victimized by financial cybercrime in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened this problem, sparking multiple schemes preying on vulnerable city residents and shady businesses fraudulently claiming relief funds. Manhattan deserves a district attorney who can counter the increasingly sophisticated tactics employed by perpetrators of economic crimes and Tali is uniquely qualified to take on the challenge. As Manhattan DA, Tali will harness her prosecution and management experience to hold accountable those who commit economic crimes — no matter who they are, what power they wield, their wealth or social status, or what offices they occupy.
LAW ENFORCEMENT ACCOUNTABILITY
The police are our partners in delivering public safety. But misconduct by law enforcement hurts us all by damaging public trust; when people do not have faith in the criminal justice system, everyone suffers. And communities of color across the country have disproportionately borne the brunt of misconduct by law enforcement. Tali believes firmly that no one is above the law, and there must be one standard of justice for law enforcement and civilians alike. As General Counsel for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, Tali led the design, creation, and supervision of a new stand-alone Law Enforcement Accountability Bureau. She also led the team that created an internal process for identifying officers the district attorney’s office (not courts or outside institutions) considers unreliable, to ensure prosecutors do not work with those officers – a first in New York City.
Too many people are in prison today that need not be there. Tali believes the work of ensuring fairness and justice is not done at sentencing. The District Attorney’s responsibilities continue until each incarcerated person returns to the community safely. And it is the current District Attorney’s responsibility to make efforts to correct the mistakes and excesses of the past – including wrongful conviction and excessive sentencing.
We are all entitled to live and work in a healthy and clean environment. Too often, environmental crimes go unchecked and disproportionately affect our low-income neighbors and communities of color. Several Manhattan neighborhoods exceed the rest of the borough — and in some cases the entire city — in poor health outcomes and elevated risks related to environmental inequity. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this injustice. Poor air quality, pollution and other respiratory hazards put Manhattan third of 3,100 US counties for higher death rates, while unaddressed environmental issues in public housing are suspected of contributing to increased COVID infections and deaths of seniors.
ETHICS AND CAMPAIGN FINANCE
As district attorney, Tali will emphasize fairness, trust in law enforcement, and equal access for all New Yorkers, and that begins with her candidacy and campaign contributions. There should never be a question - perceived or real - that the district attorney’s office will pursue justice based on facts and not influence.
All New Yorkers have a right to make an honest living and trust that their workplace is healthy and safe. Unfortunately, unscrupulous employers often cheat, harm, and discriminate against them. Tali recognizes that these workers are the backbone of our city and will fight for fair and equal treatment on their behalf. As district attorney, Tali will:
PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESSES
Small businesses make New York City vibrant. They have suffered tremendously this past year, and some estimate that as many as one-third may close permanently. These closures will surely have ripple effects — small businesses represent 98 percent of city employers, providing jobs to over 3 million people. In February 2021, almost half of citywide businesses remained closed. Before the pandemic, these small, and often immigrant-owned, businesses contributed over $195 billion to the city’s economy. Manhattan’s recovery depends on the well-being of our small and immigrant-owned businesses. Tali will fight to ensure these small businesses can survive and thrive.
From the time of arrest to the process of reentry, and whether the accused or the victim, LGBTQ+ people in the criminal justice system experience an additional layer of discrimination and difficulty. Decades of mistreatment have led to a distrust of law enforcement. A 2015 study found, for example, that 40 percent of gay and bisexual male survivors of domestic violence believed police would be unhelpful or very unhelpful in their cases. As a result, LGBTQ+ New Yorkers are less likely to report crimes and receive the protection law enforcement is meant to provide. LGBTQ+ people are likewise disproportionately likely to experience the criminal justice system. For example, 40 percent of the country’s homeless youth population is LGBTQ+, and because homelessness increases the likelihood of involvement in the criminal justice system, LGBTQ+ youth are more likely than their peers to become justice-involved. The reality in prison is similarly dismal. Transgender people are nearly ten times more likely to be sexually assaulted than the general population behind bars. This reality must change. A system is neither fair nor just if people experience it differently because of gender or sexuality. Tali will work to earn the trust of the LGBTQ+ community so every New Yorker is comfortable reporting crimes and feels protected by and treated fairly by law enforcement.