During Thursday's White House press conference, press secretary Jen Psaki appeared to dodge a question regarding the Manhattan District Attorney's new policies on crime, that include downgrading felonies and ceasing the seeking of prison sentences for some crimes.
"The Manhattan District Attorney has ordered prosecutors to stop seeking prison sentences for certain crimes, including resisting arrest. And I'm just wondering, does that give the wrong message to criminals or to police who are having to enforce these laws that the district attorney is not going to prosecute?" one reporter asked.
"And does this in any way undermine the Biden administration's efforts through the DOJ, and federal law enforcement partners to crack down on crimes like retail theft?" she continued.
Psaki responded by reiterating the administration's stance on supporting local law enforcement, and admitting that she doesn't "have all the details" regarding the new Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg's, policies.
"Well, you know where we stand on supporting local police officers, local cops, and not defunding the police, and also our concerns we have about the retail thefts we have seen and the need for leaders and communities to crack down on that," said Psaki.
"I have not spoken obviously, with our legal team, or of course, the Department of Justice about this particular issue. I can see if there's more we can add. I don't have all the details," she concluded.
A memo released by Bragg's office revealed a number of new policies regarding crime prosecution in the city, and vast changes that will be made regarding crimes that are prosecuted.
"I have dedicated my career to the inextricably linked goals of safety and fairness," Bragg said in his memo. "This memo sets out charging, bail, plea, and sentencing policies that will advance both goals. Data, and my personal experiences, show that reserving incarceration for matters involving significant harm will make us safer."
Bragg's memo stated that his office "will not seek a carceral sentence" in many cases, with exceptions made for cases including homicides, domestic violence felonies, public corruption, and some sex crimes.
"This rule may be excepted only in extraordinary circumstances based on a holistic analysis of the facts, criminal history, victim's input (particularly in cases of violence or trauma), and any other information available," the memo states.
In addition, Assistant District Attorneys must also consider the "impacts of incarceration" on public safety, communities, the racial disparity of incarceration, and the financial cost of incarceration.
The memo places a limit on determinate sentences, or sentences without the possibility of being reviewed or changed by a parole board, of 20 years.
"The Office shall not seek a sentence of life without parole," the memo also states.
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