Taking a Stand Against Hate Crimes
The nation has experienced a dangerous increase in hate crimes ever since the rise of Donald Trump. Our area has fallen victim to this alarming trend as much as any which is why District Attorney Scarpino has been aggressive in his efforts to end hate crimes and bring perpetrators to justice. The Westchester District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Unit reviews all incidents of hate brought forward by law enforcement, private individuals and local organizations, and under DA Scarpino’s leadership, has expanded its outreach and education efforts throughout Westchester.
Additionally, DA Scarpino has ordered the Westchester Intelligence Center (WIC) to work with various local agencies to provide essential support, coordination and share information to prevent and end hate crimes. For example, the WIC provided valuable information to the Westchester Jewish Council at a security roundtable meeting following the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018, and provided similar support following the heinous attack in Monsey in January.
Bias and hate crimes have no place in our community and District Attorney Scarpino will continue to work diligently with fellow prosecutors, criminal investigators and police departments to make that clear.
Refusing to Prosecute Small Amounts of Marijuana
Prosecutions for possession of small amounts of marijuana have unfairly targeted communities of color for generations. That’s why DA Scarpino refuses to prosecute individuals charged with possession of up to two ounces. Not only has this made additional law enforcement resources available to focus on more serious crimes, but it has prevented hundreds of people from receiving life-altering criminal records.
“My office’s reforms in the bail process and marijuana prosecution are illustrations of our commitment to a fairer system of justice that works for every member of our community, no matter where they live, the color of their skin or the amount in their wallets.” – Tony Scarpino
Protecting Children at School
Today, school shootings are a tragic yet legitimate concern for parents, teachers, students and society at large. To combat this horrifying reality, DA Scarpino established a blue-ribbon School Safety Commission to help public and private schools across Westchester County ensure safe and secure learning environments for children. The experts he convened produced a groundbreaking report that has already made an impact – training educators on security protocols, fostering relationships between schools and law enforcement, preparing first responders for school-related emergencies and helping the community identify individuals who may need help or who raise red flags.
Advocating for Common Sense Gun Safety
DA Scarpino was also an outspoken advocate for the State’s new red flag law which enables courts to issue “extreme risk protection orders” to individuals who are deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others. These orders prevent such individuals from buying or possessing guns and require they surrender guns they already own. This is a critical tool to prevent mass violence in schools, workplaces, houses of worship or public places, suicide and domestic violence. DA Scarpino forcefully spoke out in favor of passing the new State law.
Combating the Opioid Crisis
District Attorney Anthony Scarpino has been fighting to end the opioid crisis since taking office in 2017. Scarpino’s Opioid Response Initiative (ORI) tracks, maps, and investigates all suspected heroin overdoses in the county in conjunction with the Westchester Intelligence Center (WIC) and local law enforcement agencies too. This data is then used to help identify suppliers who are providing heroin to dealers throughout Westchester.
Alarmed by the massive increase in deaths from heroin and opioids in recent years, District Attorney Scarpino collaborated with the Westchester County Public Safety Department to form the Heroin and Opioid Task Force. The task force created a unit of narcotics detectives and investigators who are dedicated to investigating opioid trafficking in Westchester. Additionally, Scarpino placed the criminal focus on suppliers rather than addicts, demonstrating his commitment to alternatives to incarceration.
Building on Scarpino’s commitment to judicial diversion, he successfully advocated for the creation of a hub drug court initiative. Previously, Westchester residents outside Yonkers, New Rochelle, White Plains or Mount Vernon did not have access to drug treatment programs that could keep them out of jail. District Attorney Scarpino asked the courts to expand that program to include all Westchester municipalities and when the courts agreed to do so, provided staffing and support to ensure the program’s success. Additionally, the program created a specific division for Veterans, known as the Veteran Treatment Track, which helps veterans get treatment for substance abuse.
Creating a Conviction Integrity Unit
District Attorney Scarpino is committed to ensuring fairness, justice, and integrity in our justice system. That is why he has prioritized the work of the Westchester District Attorney’s office’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CRU) which investigates previous convictions of the office. DA Scarpino understands that the County’s Chief Law Enforcement officer has a moral obligation to guarantee legitimate convictions and the responsibility to address claims of wrongful conviction.
Ending the Criminalization of Poverty
District Attorney Scarpino has been one of the most progressive prosecutors in New York State. Recognizing the need to end the criminalization of poverty, DA Scarpino stopped requesting bail for most misdemeanors, so nonviolent individuals without means are not needlessly forced to await trial in jail because they can’t afford bail. He set this policy more than two years before the State passed its landmark criminal justice reforms – of which he was a vocal supporter. The DA’s bail policy has kept hundreds of nonviolent individuals out of jail and ensured greater fairness in Westchester’s criminal justice system.