Richard Aborn Gaining Steam in NY DA's Race
A few weeks ago, I published my interview with Richard Aborn, one of the three Democratic candidates to succeed outgoing Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morganthau. No Republicans are running, so whoever wins the September 15 primary will win the job.
I praised Aborn's mostly progressive agenda and his unique perspective on using the DA's office to do more than get convictions and lock people up.
The New York Times today profiles Aborn and says he's gaining steam: [More...]
His two opponents in the Sept. 15 Democratic primary were better known: Leslie Crocker Snyder, a former judge who challenged the longtime district attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau, in 2005; and Cyrus R. Vance Jr., son of President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of state and Mr. Morgenthau’s pick to succeed him.
But Mr. Aborn devoted the subsequent months to shaking hands, stumping at candidate forums and press conferences, and distributing campaign literature, and now his refrains seem to be resonating.
I think it's his message:
[H]is platform also focuses on remedying a broad range of social justice issues that are not typical district attorney concerns, including the high rate of incarceration among blacks and juvenile recidivism rates. He has stressed the need to seek treatment, rather than prison terms, for nonviolent criminals, drug addicts and young defendants. He was also in favor of providing treatment for crime victims. He has said he would reach out to minority and immigrant groups by working closely with already established community organizations.
As to how he'll do that, see my interview for the specifics, but in general, as the Times reports:
“I think we will have a driving philosophy in the office which asks, ‘Are there ways we can stop crime from happening?’ ” Mr. Aborn said over an omelet and toast at a Harlem diner. “Strictly fighting crime one case at a time is not the only way.”
Mr. Aborn’s opponents have criticized his agenda as more suitable for a legislator than a district attorney. But Mr. Aborn said his philosophy would help the district attorney’s office run more efficiently and effectively.
We've seen that the tough on crime policies of the 80's and 90's have failed and our over-reliance on incarceration is fiscally draining to states. I think Aborn's attitude is refreshing. And it doesn't seem to be one he's only recently acquired for the election:
Joseph J. Ortego, who worked with Mr. Aborn in the [DA's]office, said that Mr. Aborn was often helpful, offering advice about cases while the two lunched on 25-cent pork rolls from street vendors and chocolate egg creams.
“He was interested in the causes,” Mr. Ortego, now a defense lawyer, said. “Why people were defendants; why did things happen like this; what were the sociological reasons.”
Aborn has been endorsed by many public officials in New York, and by both the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys and The Nation magazine.
The only negative to Aborn in my view is his strong fervor for gun control, which I don't support. But that pales by comparison to all the progressive views he has on wrongful convictions, juvenile justice, drug crimes, the need for rehabilitation and treatment as alternatives to prison except in cases involving violence, intolerance for the disparities in the justice system, whether targeted at racial minorities, immigrants or the LGBT community, and so many other important issues.
You can read more at his website, Richard Aborn for DA.
Aborn is still the underdog but he has a real shot. I hope New Yorkers take him up on his offer. If ever there was a year to get a progressive with an alternative vision into a high-level crime-fighting job this is it. I doubt they'll get the chance again for a very long time.
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