In a policy not followed by any other district attorney’s office in the city, victims in the Bronx only have 24 hours to speak to prosecutors before the accused is allowed to go free, WNYC learned after months of investigating.The radio station found the Bronx has had the highest decline-to-prosecute rate in New York City for 13 of the last 16 years.
For its investigation, the results of which were published Tuesday, WNYC talked to victims, reviewed court records, and spoke with representatives of the Bronx DA’s office.
Maxine Scott said a woman cut her forehead, cheek, throat, and chest in 1991 but she was scared to talk to prosecutors immediately following the attack.
“My daughter was with me when they cut me, so they know what she looks like,” Scott told WNYC. “So in the back of my head, ‘They’re going to retaliate. They’re going to do something to her.’ And that’s my only child. You know, I carried her for nine months. That’s my life. Anything happens to her, I would never forgive myself.”
The Bronx DA’s office never filed charges against the woman Scott claims attacked her.
While District Attorney Robert Johnson wouldn’t speak with WNYC, his chief assistant Odalys Alonso said she was “very confident that we have real reasons not to bring the charges” against defendants who are allowed to walk.
“Our office has had for a very long time this policy — if you want to call it that — that our victims have to come forward early,” Alonso added.
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