By David Brand
The Queens District Attorney’s office has faced persistent criticism from DA candidates and criminal justice reformers, but at least one local lawmaker is going to bat for DA Richard Brown and the policies he has implemented during his 28-year career.
Councilmember Robert Holden defended the office after Chief Assistant District Attorney John Ryan addressed the backlash against Queens prosecutors amid the race to replace Brown, who will retire on June 1. Ryan, who will take over as Acting DA until the end of 2019, described the alternative sentencing programs that the Queens DA’s office has introduced as one example of the office’s commitment to justice reform.
“Unfortunately, much of the campaign rhetoric has ignored the immense accomplishments of DA Brown and the revolutionary programs he introduced to help more people stay out of jail,” Holden said. “As Chief ADA Ryan points out in his report, Queens has been on the forefront of criminal justice reform for more than 20 years, and in many cases the DA's office has been the first in the city and/or state to introduce certain alternative sentencing programs.”
Holden, the former Juniper Park Civic Association president, said he first met Brown in 1991 and developed a strong relationship with the county’s top prosecutor.
“He attended several of our meetings and we gave him multiple community service awards for his exemplary work,” Holden said. “I greatly admire what DA Brown has accomplished throughout his career and I hope that whomever takes his place will not tear down the foundation that he built.”
“We cannot become obsessed with the idea of reducing the jail population to the point where it becomes dangerous and irresponsible,” Holden continued.