Victim Interview Policy Cited in High Number of Declined Bronx Prosecutions


A WNYC radio investigation found that those accused of crimes in New York City’s Bronx borough have a greater chance of walking away without any charges than anywhere else in the city. The Bronx County District Attorney's Office declines to prosecute thousands more cases than do the four other District Attorney offices. A prime reason is an internal policy that cops say allows criminals to go free. In the Bronx, if a victim isn't interviewed by prosecutors within 24 hours after an arrest, the DA will almost always decline to prosecute the case.

Internal records suggest this guideline is a big reason why Bronx prosecutors declined almost one quarter of all their cases last year. That's nearly four times the rate in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson declined to be interviewed. His chief assistant, Odalys Alonso, said the longstanding requirement that victims come forward within 24 hours is both reasonable and just. “When we decide to do a decline-to-prosecute, I'm very confident that we have real reasons not to bring the charges against that defendant,” said Alonso, who added, “Our office has had for a very long time this policy — if you want to call it that — that our victims have to come forward early.”

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