By Alexandra Natapoff
Ms. Natapoff is a visiting law professor at Harvard Law School.
American voters have realized that prosecutors hold the keys to a fairer criminal justice system. In November’s elections, they replaced numerous incumbents with reformers who promised to reduce mass incarceration, its exorbitant costs and its racial disparities. Prosecutors are central to solving these problems because they control two of the most important decisions in the criminal process: who will be charged with a crime and what that criminal charge will be.
But in practice they do not decide alone. In the enormous world of misdemeanor processing, the police quietly wield a lot of prosecutorial authority. So for voters seeking change, switching prosecutors is only a partial solution.
In hundreds of misdemeanor courts in at least 14 states, police officers can file criminal charges and handle court cases, acting as prosecutor as well as witness and negotiator. People must defend themselves against, or work out plea deals with, the same police officers who arrested them for low-level offenses like shoplifting or trespassing.
Consider South Carolina, where most of the 400 magistrate and municipal courts had no prosecuting attorneys, according to a 2017 study by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The police prosecuted their own misdemeanor arrests, while 90 percent of defendants had no lawyers and so faced the arresting officer-prosecutor on their own. South Carolina also does not require its lower-court judges to be lawyers, so thousands of convictions occur without input from a single attorney.
The police in other states can end up as de facto prosecutors, even without formal charging authority. Prosecutors typically lack the time and resources to screen hundreds of minor arrests, and so most arrests are routinely prosecuted. This lack of initial screening manifests in low declination rates — the rate at which prosecutors “decline” arrests and decide not to bring formal criminal charges.
In Mecklenburg, N.C., for example, the prosecutorial declination rate for drug offenses was only 4 percent, according to a study by the Vera Institute of Justice. For drug offenses brought against African-American women at the time, it was zero; every single arrest became a formal criminal charge. In Texas, the non-traffic misdemeanor declination rate in municipal court was around 8 percent in 2015. In Alaska, it was less than 4 percent. In jurisdictions with such low declination rates, over 90 percent of arrests convert to criminal charges without much scrutiny; getting arrested is tantamount to being charged with a crime.
In contrast, federal prosecutors decline about one-third of felony cases, and some jurisdictions screen misdemeanors more rigorously too. In Baltimore, prosecutors decline over 20 percent of disorderly conduct and disturbing-the-peace arrests at the jail, sending people home before anyone has to go to court. The Bronx district attorney decided to stop prosecuting trespass arrests in 2012 based on police reports alone. Two years later, the Brooklyn district attorney began declining many marijuana possession arrests. In November, Rachael Rollins became Boston’s first female African-American district attorney based partly on her campaign promise to automatically decline 15 types of minor crimes such as disorderly conduct and drug possession.
In places like those, prosecutors are performing the vital gatekeeping role that has earned them such broad discretion. But when prosecutors do not screen thoroughly, the police become accidental prosecutors, deciding, in effect, not only who will be arrested but also who will be charged with a crime.
A minor criminal charge can have ruinous consequences. People accused of misdemeanors are under heavy pressure to plead guilty, especially if they are incarcerated and cannot afford bail. Misdemeanor defendants often do not get lawyers and must make crucial decisions without legal advice.
While charges are pending, they may lose their jobs, disrupt their child care or risk their immigration status. Even when cases are dismissed, as about one-third of misdemeanor charges eventually are, defendants must still resist pressures to plead guilty, for weeks or even months.
If cases are not dismissed, well over 90 percent of defendants will plead guilty. They will then struggle with fines, probation, perhaps jail, and permanent criminal records that can derail their future employment, housing and education. It turns out that simply being arrested and charged with a minor offense is a long and painful step toward being convicted of one.
Those initial police decisions are crucial in another way: Arrests determine who will end up in the misdemeanor pipeline. African-Americans make up nearly 30 percent of national misdemeanor arrests although they represent some 12 percent of the population. Marijuana arrests are especially skewed by race; blacks are four times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession, even though the two groups use marijuana at the same rates. In many cities, people of color are disproportionately arrested for jaywalking, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. These racially skewed policing decisions begin an official process that formally criminalizes millions of people of color every year.
That enormous misdemeanor process constitutes the bulk of the American criminal system. Thirteen million misdemeanor cases are filed annually — that’s 80 percent of all state criminal dockets. This is how our criminal system works most of the time, for the most people.
There are many ways that the police and prosecutors can improve the misdemeanor system, mostly by shrinking it. The police can deploy low-level arrests less often and in more targeted and strategic ways, as many community policing programs already do. And they can focus on reducing racial disparities.
Prosecutors should devote more time and resources to screening misdemeanors so that minor arrests do not become criminal charges so easily and so often. The ultimate aim — and the thing voters should demand in the next election — is to ease the flood of misdemeanor arrests and convictions that quietly derails millions of people’s lives every year and that exacerbates some of the worst injustices of our criminal system.
Alexandra Natapoff is a visiting law professor at Harvard Law School and a law professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. She is the author of the forthcoming book “Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal.”
P E R J U R Y.
Our court system is a joke as they are often manipulated by malicious prosecutors like Anjelica Gregory who "Suborned Perjury" + like Brent Ferguson who committed "Fraud on the Court."
And why not? Our Supreme Court Justices themselves perjure, and the NY Court of Appeals over-looks irrefutable proof.
Prosecutors often bend laws/break in order to win bad convictions.
We are grateful to Governor Cuomo for his newly appointed Commission of Prosecutor Accountability.
*Anjelica Gregory lost her job within days of a Suborn Perjury complaint was made public.
To our 37+ MILLION friends + supporters, AND our estimated 1MILLION new visitors + supporters each month,
Manhattan DA Suborns Perjury And Brooke LIED after a Disorderly Conduct was refused.
Cy Vance’s office opportunistically targeted a Sandy Hook First Responder for responding and manipulated actress/model Brooke into lying on stand.
*Ms. Shields is on record asking that NO CHARGES be filed, nor harm to come.
Perjury is a CRIME, NOT A TACTIC.
IN OUR 30 YEARS WE ARE SUPPORTED BY/WORKED WITH::
ABC’s The View + GMA.
NBC’s Today Show
Sarah Jessica Parker
to name a few.
The Manhattan DA offered a Disordly Conduct over our work for Newtown after the Sandy Hook Massacre. Specifically the Hallmark Cards c0-sponsored tree trimming event held in Newtown on its first Anniversary.
Unlike the Manhattan DA, we would NOT perjure ourselves into accepting Sandy Hook as harassment.
The Manhattan DA acted on behalf of an individual who says in her paranoia, she holds onto a list of some 2000 people who she’s somehow made fearful by.
*One in particular was made out to be a stalker despite his being gay, offered up a list of 4boyfriends at the time, dozens of witnesses. and computer forensics that claim otherwise.
*Computer Forensics also proved that Ms. Shields was in fact a liar as it disproved her every word of testimony.
Without any bit of professionalism and a suspected high profile win, Cy Vance’s office acted without merit and recreated the past to fit their narrative Upon learning the Manhattan DA made a mistake, ADA Anjelica Gregory offered a slap on the wrist if we lied. When we refused, the Manhattan DA "Suborned Perjury" from Brooke Shields to manipulate the court by committing "Fraud on the Court." and committed the same crime to the New York Court of Appeals.
***WHEN ADA’s SUBORN PERJURY, COURT OF APPEALS IS RENDERED USELESS.
TY for visiting.
Our efforts have never been about us, but all about our answering the call asked upon an entire nation after the most horrific assault on our children.
There has been a lot of confusion about us, and therefore a constant need to defend has been warranted. While we have tried our best to understand the egregious criminal actions made against us by the Manhattan DA, Cy Vance in our opinion is nothing more than a thug opportunistically abusing his power in office.
That said, I’m not sure how long I have, but the time I do have is dedicated towards something better/bigger than ourselves. It’s also meant to serve as a constant reminder to my little boy who will undoubtedly be left behind.
Tbe message being that we cannot control what happens to us, but we can decide in which direction to proceed. Its also about when we cannot find peace within ourselves, we can always find peace in selflessly doing for others.
in 1986, I was struck and hit as a pedestrian by a drunk driver. As a result, I suffer a considerable TBI/traumatic brain injury. So, before I disappear permanently, there’s been an anxious determination of my working against the clock.
Our goal being a legacy of ensuring our nation’s children are better protected.
After Sandy Hook suffered on 12/14/12, on that day, I held my then 4year old in my arms and cried- I cried thinking of the 20 families that no longer had their child to hold and felt an overwhelming need to answer our nation’s call of kindness. I also understood that the tragedy went beyond the irresponsible gun laws of our greedy America, but that these horrors were also the result of the bullying and isolation so many of our youth’s needlessly feel.
We took on such a huge undertaking because we’re told that we all matter, and to be honest, believe we can all be the change we wish to seek.
The world needs to be better for our children, and we cannot sit idly by.
We can also not allow bully’s prevail- not even a Cy Vance and his criminal band of idiots!
ALL THIS BS, has been the result of our Sandy Hook first anniversary and our inviting actress Brooke Shields to attend. We knew her, her mother was friends with my dad, and Ms. Shields’ husband Chris Henchy was also the one to reconnect us back in 2002. In fact, Mr. Henchy dragged me across the room inhand to meet his more famous wife. Incidentally, they both hugged me and I returned with a “Rocky” like playful jab! Broole not only declined, but she was also skeptical about our legitimacy. Ms. Shields actually testified that Sandy Hook was about her, and not 26lives slaughtered! She didn’t want any charges, but she did responsibly begin a file should things get questionable. The Manhattan DA opportunistically saw an easy high profile win of harrasment by suggesting improprieties. NYPD’s 6th Precinct then looked up our car’s registration and saw that it was registered to a legitimate NY 501c3, but still chose to “create” harassment. Upon our defense, they maliciously “Stacked” charges to force a perjured plea. Simply put, we told the Manhattan DA to go fuck himself which then his office “Suborned Perjury” coaching actress/model Brooke Shields and her husband to commit perjury.
We’ve also spoke out with great success! When we were first assaulted by the NYPD, and falsely targeted we had 100,000+ followers/friends. We now have more than 37MILLION followers/friends.
Our medsage is this, we DEMAND Gun Reform to better protect our children. While we cannot always be there for our children, we can however ensure all safeties are in effect.
Today 11.18.2018, we had a Twitter war with Ryan Graney- who claims to be a representative of Vicki Soto.
Ryan Graney is awful. She's as awful today as she was in 2013 when we first released the Hallmark collaboration- a collaboration that honors each life lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School by creating 26 one-of-a-kind ornaments that honored each life senselessly take at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. It's also a design still sold today in Hallmark cards nation wide each Christmas.
Ryan Graney is vindictive, spiteful, and now a bona-fide Sandy Hook conspiracist. All anyone needs to do is check out her bullying/harassment Twitter accounts @RyanEGraney or @TeamVickiSoto to see what kind of person she really is.
We were invited to be a part of the Newtown community by Newtown leaders, introduced to a Sandy Hook family, and attended most meetings surrounding the building of the 2012 proposed, and approved, Center.
Its modeled after Dunblane, Scotland’s primary school that suffered similarly to Sandy Hook. Within a year of Dunblane’s mas-Shooting, we had hoped to change gun laws in America.
But, WE get hyper-vigilant Alex-Jones-type conspiracists who stalk through phone, text, tweet + more.
Together with Hallmark, we created 26 one-of-a-kind ornaments that first hung on the original Sandy Hook Memorial on Sandy Hook’s First Anniversary (seen above.) From there they were sent to the White House under First Lady Michelle Obama and her team to hang on one of the First tree’s. They were sent- all but Vicki Soto’s, her team did not want to participate. The next year we worked on a moment of silence with ABC’s The View, to be hosted by actress Sarah Jessica Parker. Through that effort, we were on the show, became friends with he Executive Producer (a friendship that remains today). The co-hosts has even made us promise they'd be provided the first updates. (additional direct contact with the ladies is still preserved today) All 25 ornaments were sent. All, except Vicki Soto’s. The year after that they were sent to ellen- all but Vicki Soto’s. A close friend of 30years is an ellen show creator, and who doesn't love ellen.
Ryan Graney was so difficult to work with back in 2013, that we can see why she too is now considered a Sandy Hook Conspiracist. She shouts to the world, that I’m Brooke Shield’s stalker- which is good because it allows me to then state to the world that Brooke committed perjured in court. I can say this without any recourse because she knows she lied, her husband knows and lied himself, the DA knows she lied because the ADA who “Suborned Perjury” has since lost her job after a “Suborn Perjury” complaint was filed.
We understand being over-protective, and appreciate the opportunity to explain. But, this woman, Ryan Graney is crazy- antagonizing any and everyone in her way just enough to make them "slip-" meaning just enough for her victims to make a mistake out of upset so they then become in default and lose their footing.
Lets make one thing clear, we simply offered up a parking spot. And when an ordinary and playful gesture was made, a pissing match ensued. I then "slipped' up, and asked Ms. Shields' assistant to NOT vandalize my car- the same car who's spot was offered up that set this whole shit-storm ablaze. I made one mistake- actually two. First, the assistant is this rather large, nightmarish individual who looks like a giant lady. I simply asked the man to NOT touch my car. That was my first mistake. The second, I shouldn't have responded on Twitter. But, I did! Admittedly, I did it for followers as all America now does. At the time of Brooke's assistant's assault on my car, I name Harvey after my beloved Harvey Spekter, Sandy Hook Center had 100,000 "likes" on our web-site. After publishing my feud with Brooke we grew our support to now over 37+ Million. However, it bit us in our friggen' ass because BROOKE COMMITTED PERJURY.
Yes, anyone who can say what is true. If it wasn't I'd be charged with libel. BUT BROOKE lied.
WHY you ask?
Brooke lied because I was adamant in my defense- I DID NOT harass.
She believed that since I told her assistant to NOT touch my car that some how I had actually known. Ms. Shields used that comment to state that I had followed her to the pier that day. When in fact I had just assumed the "faggy" assistant was the one who vandalized my car. I was in fact several miles away at the pre-scheduled- therefore able to offer an alibi. OR simply put, this was one of Ms. Shields willful, and knowledgeable perjuries.
We came to Newtown because we were called to. America rallied behind us after 9/11, and we rallied behind Newtown after Sandy Hook.
We know loss- we lost 3siblings to senseless violence, and a boyfriend disintegrated in the sky above me on 9/11. Had I not become an advocate, I’d have no reason to be here whatsoever. But, dedicating a life to service is in itself the greatest reward and immense comfort.
Ms. Graney suggests that since we are outsiders, we have no place in Newtown. It’s called humanity, and paying it forward. The world opened their arms to us after 9/11, and we repaid it to Newtown.
*Incidentally, Ms. Graney is not in Newtown, she’s somewhere wherever her broom flies to- she claims Nashville.
In 2015, we did hire a Newtown father as COO. But, Ms. Shields via Cy Vance abuse sidelined that.
The result! Newtown Community CenTer honoring Newtown and their elderly- without mention of the 26 families. Sadly, for over a year and a half, I had made a promise to Rebecca Kowalski that the families would be considered first. We obviously had failed. There is still our commitment to seeing the Sandy Hook CenTer come to fruition. After all, it’s the very reason I stood up to an abusive prosecutor and refused a technical slap on the wrist. An unwarranted, and exaggerated slap- but a slap indeed!
Through GH our leadership and mentorship we had the resources to build a center the day of the shooting. In fact our advisors were Bill Ackman of Pershing Sq. Foundation.
*They are responsible for New York City’s Highline, amongst other things.
“Be The Change!”
They say, “be the change, so when called to action, we did so without thought or family sacrifice- sacrifice that cost us two lives.
This is NOT a business site as it’s been explained time and time again- we had www.SandyHookCenTer.com for that. The official site was scheduled to launch September 2015. It was also to be our official launch after the re-opening of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in the fall of 2015.
This site here, is an informative extension and has served us well with full transparency.
Agsin, unfortunately, an evil monster from a blue lagoon mistook our efforts, specifically our Hallmark collaboration as questionable simply because we didn’t solicit funding. As a result, we were then subject to malicious prosecution and “Stacked” into a Disorderly Conduct. When we refused to perjure a plea, ADA Anjelica Gregory Suborned Perjury manipulating actress/model Brooke Shields + her husband to commit perjury.
The same DA who refused to charge Weinstein, nor Trump Children and came under scrutiny of questionable donations.
Out of spite, they turned a slap-in-the-wrist into a harassment case and won by Suborning Perjury.
We were told that Sandy Hook wasn’t about us, and it’s not!
It’s About Us All.
Columbine inspired Sandy Hook, and since Sandy Hook didn’t inspire #GunReform, we have Mass-Shootings daily- TWO actually today!
I advocate because we- my family has lost 3 siblings to violence and I lost a spouse on flight 175 who literally disinitigrated in the sky above me.
Graham and I had just spent the summer on the Cape, and I was moving to Appleton St. in Boston.
*'computer forensics-computers +phone for the past 15years that contradicted both Brooke and her husband Chris’ sworn testimony.
Newtown, you are more than welcome to www.SandyHookCenTer.com, our Twitter, and our political, celebrity, + business support. We don’t care who achieves gun reform, as long as it gets done!
Sandy Hook is about us all- every school shooting since has had Sandy Hook on their mind- how could it not be?It terrorized a nation- a world. There's a reason that mass-shootings have become a pandemic- the irrelevant seek relevance through infamy.
According to the CDC, notoriety is its greatest impetus. It’s also no coincidence that mass-shootings happen every day- twice today as I’ve said.
TRUST ME, I’d rather do literally anything else than advocate for our children’s safety, but little progress has been made.
I’d also like my family back!