DA Race: Fliedner Pushes Progressive Criminal Justice Reform

The Race For District Attorney (5)

For Brooklyn District Attorney Candidate Marc Fliedner  the office is all about changing the narrative between struggling crime-infested neighborhoods and the criminal justice system.

Fliedner served as assistant district attorney under Elizabeth Holtzman starting in 1987, after being recruiting out of George Washington University Law School and continuing under former Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes until 1992.

Then in 2006 Fliedner returned to the Brooklyn DA’s office as an ADA after a stint in the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office in New Jersey. In 2014, after the late Ken Thompson defeated Hynes for the position, he created the Civil Rights Bureau, appointing Fliedner as the chief of the unit until he departed for his own civil rights practice in June 2016.

So with this 30 years experience, Fliedner has some ideas in mind if he were to become Brooklyn’s DA, specifically bridging a gap between teens and the police through social services partnerships and creating alternatives for incarceration.

Fliedner also wants to continue in the footsteps of Thompson with the continuation of the Conviction Review Unit. However, with a stronger focus on the initial causes of criminal activity.

Mark Fliedner

“Of course it [Conviction Review Unit] has to continue, but it has to continue without being politicized. It has to continue as fundamental right and wrong. But I think what many folks tend to lose sight of is that there is so much we can do on the front end to make sure this doesn’t happen. From the very moment the police bring a case to the DA’s office, it needs to be evaluated in terms of making sure there hasn’t been any constitutional rights violations. In terms of making sure the charges are appropriate and should in fact proceed to prosecution,” said Fliedner.

“Then we have to make smart decisions about charging, about sentences that are constructive. There is absolutely still this instinct in Brooklyn to demand the felony, demand the five years or a sentence and put people in this for-profit prison system that is overcrowded and absolutely ineffective,” he added.

Fliedner believes that looking at the issues that lead people to enter the criminal justice system is the best way to help curb the tide of criminal activity. This includes mental health issues, substance abuse and what Fliedner terms “survivor crime”-sometimes people committing criminal offenses because of poverty- unemployment, and low levels of education.

Fliedner also has ideas on bail reform and looking at the high levels of Brooklyn residents sitting in Rikers or at a detention center due to a lack of resources to pay small bail amounts, sometimes in the form of $250. One of his first steps if he were to become Brooklyn DA, would be to ensure ADA’s are making “appropriate and ethically based bail arguments.”

Fliedner also wants to bring back the young diverse ADA’s he claims left in a mass exodus over the last few years, due to a lack of “merit based compensation” and a lack of “cultivation.”

“One of the things I would be looking into doing right off the bat is bringing in some of the many people I’ve talked to, who were disheartened to leave the DA’s office and went on to do other kinds of legal work. [I would want to] bring them back. Put them in positions where they can provide mentorship to young ADA who will become the career prosecutors, that can change the system,” said Fliedner.

In regards to acting DA Eric Gonzalez, Fliedner claims he lacks a clear vision and knowledge of the communities he’s serving to be a successful DA going forward into a new term.

“He hasn’t declared his candidacy which means he hasn’t been required to articulate that vision, in conversation with the community and us [candidates]. And I’m not talking about lectures to the community I’m talking about conversations with the community, where we hear what they really need, said Fliedner.