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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Some progressive district attorneys “may have tarnished the brand,” Memphis’ new top prosecutor told Fox News, noting that he’s taken lessons from their mistakes.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy was sworn in on Aug. 31, making him the first Democrat to hold the position in decades. He campaigned on a progressive agenda, vowing to prioritize violent crime, fix the “broken bail system,” implement restorative justice and expand Juvenile Court jurisdiction to age 25, among other policies.
“I think that there have been a few high profile reform DAs or progressive DAs that have gotten into trouble that may have tarnished the brand for your viewers,” Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told Fox News. “I want them to know that me and a lot of other people who consider themselves reform DAs also think that violent crime needs to be punished severely.”
“We also think that quality of life matters and that crime matters,” Mulroy continued. “We just think that there’s a better way of doing it.”
Mulroy pointed to mistakes from other progressive district attorneys, like San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin and Manhattan’s Alvin Bragg.
Boudin implemented progressive criminal justice policies such as eliminating cash bail and gang enhancements. Critics blamed Boudin for the increased murder rate, violent crime, shoplifting and open-air drug trade, culminating in a successful recall campaign and his ouster in June.
“If you preside over record crime, voters are going to vote for change,” Mulroy said. Eight out of 10 San Franciscans considered crime to have worsened while Boudin was in office, a San Francisco Chamber of Commerce poll showed.
Mulroy told Fox News quality of life offenses matter.
“People have the right to walk down the street without seeing people urinating next to their house,” he said.
Bragg, meanwhile, faced backlash over a memo he issued days after taking office instructing prosecutors to avoid seeking jail time for a variety of crimes, including robberies, assaults and gun possession.
“You can’t just impose these reform policies from day one without consulting with the community and getting their input,” Mulroy told Fox News. “The idea of doing this without consultation with the staff, with the community, that’s a problem.”
Mulroy plans to meet individually with all 115 of his attorneys. He said he’s already made substantial inroads.
“In my one-on-one meetings, the first thing I want from them is their input about what works in the office, what could be improved,” Mulroy said.
Bragg clarified a month later that prosecutors were not bound to the memo.
“It’s a difference of opinion about what works, but our goals are the same,” Mulroy told Fox News. “We do value victims. We do care about crime. But the way I put it is, do you want to do what works or what makes you feel good?”
Mulroy cited Brooklyn’s Eric Gonzalez and New Orleans’ Jason Williams as examples of successful reform district attorneys.
Gonazalez’s office recently asked a judge to dismiss 378 convictions that relied on police officers who were later convicted of misconduct. Williams in April announced that four teenagers accused of a fatal carjacking would be tried as adults. Other progressive DAs have put blanket bans on charging minors as adults.
Mulroy said the community won’t feel alienated if the system were made fairer.
“They will cooperate with law enforcement. They will provide tips, report crimes, serve as witnesses,” Mulroy said. “That’s the way you really bend the curve on violent crime.”