For too long, our criminal justice system has been built on a foundation of mass incarceration.


For too long, our criminal justice system has been built on a foundation of mass incarceration, including jailing people only accused of a crime and then using onerous cash bail as a means of forcing them to accept unfair plea deals.

Bail that is financially out of reach for a lower-income defendant means a jail sentence whether someone is guilty or not. Overly long wait times for trial are a coercive and unfair means of forcing plea bargains, regardless of the facts of the case. Unfairly long sentences for minor offenses drive up the costs of incarceration for taxpayers without providing any societal benefit and undermine the chances for some to successfully rehabilitate themselves.

New York State law has not evolved as it should on many of these matters, but as District Attorney, Melinda will order reforms Albany refuses to make by:

  • Creating an internal committee charged with drafting legislation, lobbying Albany, and focusing on criminal justice reforms needed in the State of New York. In addition to the reforms below, this committee will continually monitor the outcomes and needs of the Court System in order to keep working towards equity. This committee will include not only Assistant District Attorneys, but also advocacy and community groups

  • Ending cash bail completely. If someone is a threat to our community’s safety, they shouldn’t be on the streets; if they’re not, they should not have to sit in jail awaiting trial regardless of their financial situation.

  • Requiring that any case that has gone longer than 6 months without a trial date being set will immediately be reviewed for appropriate disposition.

  • Ending the current practice of refusing to consider plea bargains once an indictment has been made, so that no one is unfairly coerced into accepting a plea deal for a crime they didn’t commit or before seeing the evidence against them.

  • Getting discovery to defense as soon as possible to give the accused the right to know the evidence against them