Bronx criminals are getting a free pass, according to a City Hall report that slams Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson’s office as the worst in the city.
The Criminal Justice Indicator Report cites a litany of major categories in which the Bronx prosecutor’s office is either at or near the bottom among the city’s five district attornies.
That includes Johnson having the city’s highest release rate at arraignment for violent felon arrests and lowest prison rate for them.
Defending himself, Johnson cited a number of variables such as witness cooperation and lack of evidence – issues common however, to all city prosecutors.
Among the findings in the report by Mayor Bloomberg’s criminal justice coordinator John Feinblatt:
•Johnson’s conviction rate for violent felony arrests in 2011 was the lowest in the city, at 43%, while convictions for other felony arrests was at 58%, three percentage points higher than the lowest county, Brooklyn.
•The Bronx topped the city – at 47% – for the release rate of “high risk” felony defendants not recommended for release.
•With only 21%, the Bronx has the lowest rate of suspects arrested for violent felonies being jailed. Manhattan was highest with 30%.
•Only 44% of defendants coming up for arraignment were held in 2011 – the lowest rate in the city, compared to the citywide average of 54% held.
•With the average arrest-to-arraignment time 24 hours, Johnson’s average time in 2012 was 26 hours and 18 minutes, a few minutes longer than busier Brooklyn.
•The Bronx had the highest number of pending state Supreme Court felony cases in the city – 5,183 – with 70% of them still pending after over 180 days.
•It was neck-and-neck at the bottom with Brooklyn at 18% for felony arrests that wound up with prison time in 2011, and lowest in the city at 21% for cases involving violent felony arrests.
•When it came to illegal possession of loaded guns, Johnson’s office was again at the bottom at 31% for defendants sentenced to prison. Queens was highest at 76% and Manhattan next at 68%. Citywide, an average of half the cases wound up with prison time.
•Operation Spotlight created in 2003 to target the most persistent misdemeanor offenders for jailtime shows the Bronx with the least cases – 36% winding up in prison, whloe Manhattan had 63% and Queens 61% sentenced.
“We believe that the proportion of felony convictions should be a percentage of indictments not arrests. A great deal of evaluation, including whether or not to indict takes place post arrest,” said a spokesman for Johnson.
“Nevertheless, at the end of the day crime statistics from the Bronx show comparable dramatic reductions over the last twenty years as the rest of the city. Also by looking at statistics alone there are so many variables that cannot be known,” the spokesman continued. “The statistics don’t show those cases in which a witness is uncooperative, the evidence is insufficient, a search is unconstitutional or were diverted to give a defendant a chance at rehabilitation.”
Johnson, 64, has been Bronx D.A. since 1989, serving before that as an acting Supreme Court Justice and Legal Aide attorney. He became the longest-serving Bronx D.A. in 2005, and was elected to a seventh four-year term in 2011.
To see the report, go to www.nyc.gov, then click on criminal justice coordinator.