Press Release

ICYMI: The Appeal: ‘Life Sentences Are Death Sentences.’ How this DA Candidate Wants to Decarcerate Manhattan

March 12, 2021
Contact: Kate Smart

MANHATTAN - Dan Quart is running for Manhattan District Attorney to reform our criminal justice system, hold the police and law enforcement accountable, and keep all Manhattanites safe. He sat down with The Appeal to discuss how his record on achieving real reforms as a lawmaker differentiates him as a candidate and how he would accomplish these goals to build a fairer and safer Manhattan. Read more below.

The Appeal: ‘Life Sentences Are Death Sentences.’ How this DA Candidate Wants to Decarcerate Manhattan

A recent report by The Sentencing Project found that a majority of New Yorkers who are serving a life sentence are Black. How much do you think prosecutors share responsibility for disparities like that, and how can you own up to that responsibility as DA?

Yes, much of the blame for the overpopulation of our state correctional facilities by people of color has to do not simply with the NYPD, but punitive prosecutorial practices.

For seven years in the legislature, I fought to decriminalize something called gravity knives: This was used as a bump-up by Cy Vance to incarcerate individuals. Legal Aid said that 85 percent of those who were arrested on gravity knife charges were people of color. There is just one example of the discriminatory practices of arrest and prosecution implemented over the last 10 years by both law enforcement and this DA’s office. And I’ve achieved actual decarceral results by decriminalizing that specific charge.


Law enforcement groups fought the 2019 bail reform that lawmakers then partially rolled it back. Your reforms, including not seeking cash bail, may well generate a similar reaction from them. What lessons did you draw from past conflicts for how you would respond?

This is the greatest distinction between myself and the seven other lawyers running for this office: I’ve been an elected official taking these positions, I’ve defended these positions in primary and general elections, where I was attacked for taking on these critical criminal justice reform issues. I think that should give comfort to Manhattanites that regardless of the criticism I will follow through on the reforms.

Read the full article here.

About Dan Quart: Dan Quart is one of NYC’s top pro bono attorneys and a New York State Assemblymember representing Manhattan’s East Side. A Washington Heights native who grew up in subsidized housing with working-class parents, Dan was raised by a public school teacher and a social worker who taught him the value of public service. Since graduating law school, he has dedicated his career to standing up for tenants' rights and advocating for criminal justice reform.

As Manhattan’s next District Attorney, Dan will fight to end mass incarceration, hold law enforcement accountable for police brutality, and ensure that all Manhattanites feel safe. Learn more at and