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Alvin Bragg, Manhattan D.A., to Seek Incarceration Only for Worst Crimes

“Growing up in Harlem in the 1980s, I saw every side of the criminal justice system from a young age,” he wrote. “Before I was 21 years old, I had a gun pointed at me six times: three by police officers and three by people who were not police officers. I had a knife to my neck, a semiautomatic gun to my head, and a homicide victim on my doorstep.”

Some former prosecutors urged a measure of caution as Mr. Bragg begins his tenure.

“Progressive criminal justice reform has to find a balance,” said Karen Friedman Agnifilo, a former deputy to Mr. Vance. “Old-school law enforcement went too far in one direction, but lessons we’re learning in some big cities suggest that others may have gone too far in the other direction.”

“I’m confident that Alvin can find that balance,” she said.

In the Democratic primary for district attorney, Mr. Bragg, a former federal prosecutor, represented an ideological middle ground. His competitors included three lawyers without prosecutorial experience, two of whom pledged to cut the office’s budget in half if elected. Some of his rivals who did have prosecutorial experience suggested they would make fewer sweeping changes to the office than Mr. Bragg pledged to.

Now that Mr. Bragg is in office, it is becoming clear to onlookers that his vision is similar to that of district attorneys around the country who have championed more lenient policies, including Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, Marilyn Mosby in Baltimore, George Gascon in Los Angeles, Kim Foxx in Chicago and Chesa Boudin in San Francisco.

In an interview, Mr. Krasner, who was re-elected to a second term in November, said Mr. Bragg would undoubtedly encounter resistance, from within the district attorney’s office and from institutions outside it, including the courts, the police, the news media and even elements of the Democratic Party.

“There is always going to be some confusion and resistance to change even among people who are operating in good faith,” Mr. Krasner said.

Many of Mr. Bragg’s peers in other cities have faced fierce criticism from victims’ rights groups, traditional law enforcement authorities and others in their communities as they seek to change the justice system from within. It remains to be seen whether Mr. Bragg will receive a similar greeting in his first months on the job.

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