Law/Justice

Manhattan D.A. Candidate Explains Why She’ll Stop Prosecuting Drug Offenses And Sex Work

By Daniel Nichanian, The Appeal

Tahanie Aboushi discusses her newly expanded proposal to not prosecute offenses that criminalize poverty, mental health issues, and substance use, and to reduce incarceration for all cases.

As more district attorneys win elections on promises to reform the criminal legal system, demands are mounting for them to not just tinker with its edges but directly downsize it. The goal, for many activists, isn’t only for this system to treat people differently, but to ensure people never encounter it in the first place.

Today Tahanie Aboushi, a candidate for DA in Manhattan’s 2021 election, rolled out a list of more than 40 offenses she says her office would not prosecute because they criminalize poverty, mental health issues, and substance use. Her new policy proposal builds on an earlier promise to end the prosecution of a shorter, and more qualified, list of charges.

If she is elected, she would not file criminal charges over drug offenses, sex work, driving without a license, disorderly conduct, some theft charges, fortune telling, and many more, in cases where these would be the top charge. Such cases would be outright dropped when brought to her by the police.

Aboushi, a civil rights attorney, is one of eight candidates in the Democratic primary to replace DA Cy Vance, who has not yet said whether he will seek re-election. A number of her opponents have said they would decline to prosecute some offenses that are on her list as well.

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