To the editor:
This June 27, Bronx Democrats will nominate their candidate for district attorney in the November general election. Our choice will be between the incumbent, Darcel Clark — originally appointed in January 2016 to fill a vacancy — and challenger Tess Cohen, a former prosecutor in the New York City Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, who is also a criminal defense and civil rights attorney.
We are impressed that Tess Cohen wants to be our DA because she has a vision of how the criminal justice system can be more effective, accountable and fair. Rikers Island is just one example. Cohen would not only work hard to comply with the legal requirement to close it in 2027, but also keep it under strict oversight.
DA Clark has looked the other way as prisoner abuses pile up. Could it be because her biggest donor is the corrections officers union?
Cohen also has pledged to stop the dismissal of important cases because the DA’s office repeatedly fails to comply with pretrial discovery deadlines, as happens under Clark. That’s connected to Rikers, too — discovery delays mean that defendants languish in Rikers longer than those from any other borough. Instead of improving compliance, Clark is using the state budget process to try to water down the regulations.
We think it’s important that Cohen has done her research and has thought deeply. Among other things, she points to ways in which Clark has allowed the Bronx to be left behind in many areas like successful alternatives to incarceration, mental health courts, and the treatment of crimes involving guns. If elected, Cohen will do the work needed to address all of these.
You will be hearing more about Tess Cohen in the coming weeks. We think she is a winner, and sorely needed in our borough. Vote for Tess Cohen for Bronx District Attorney on June 27.
The authors write on behalf of the Ruth Mullen Riverdale Huddle, which includes Helen Krim, Sue Ellen Dodell, Madeline Ritter, Elizabeth Cooke-Levy and Julie Marcus