Why New York Voters Rejected Crocker Snyder

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The message I give to Mr. Vance is that if he adopts a balanced approach to justice that incorporates compassion, he will go a long way. And as for Judge Snyder, I bid her farewell and I wish her ride on a slow boat to China is a good one.

[Op-Ed: New York]

On Tuesday September 15, Cy Vance Jr. overwhelmingly beat Leslie Crocker Snyder
in the race to be Manhattan's next district attorney.

Since there is no Republican challenger, Vance will be voted into office in November.

Snyder, who built her career as a ruthless prosecutor and judge, was beaten so bad
that the Village Voice quoted her on election night saying that she was retiring from
politics and going to China.

In my view, Snyder lost because of her over-reliance on a misguided tough-on-crime
approach, and because of her inability to balance her decisions with common sense
and compassion.

In the past Snyder portrayed herself as a John Wayne type of crusader ofjustice who
kicked butt and took no names. Yes, I know she says sheonly aimed the barrels of
her gun at the bad apples of society.

But the main problem with that was she could not tell the difference between apples
and oranges. In her run for Manhattan District Attorney Snyder completely revamped
her image and attempted to portray herself as a progressive thinker.

She suddenly
flipped her position on issues like the death penalty and the Rockefeller Drug Laws.
Not long ago she was such a strong supporter of the death penalty that she said she
would insert the needle herself to deliver the death sentence.

She also suddenly claimed to be a leader inthe epic struggle to reform the Rockefeller
Drug Laws.

Her record as a judge told a different story, sentencing low level offenders to tremendous
amounts of time for drug convictions. The office of District Attorney demands a
competent leader that possesses a balanced view of justice predicated on the concept
of being tough on crime, but also being smart on crime.

Recently this approach broke into the national landscape thanks to a smart and tough
politician named Jim Webb, a senator from Virginia. He called for an overhaul of the U.S.
prison system - stating that the American system for the prosecution and incarceration of
criminals not only needs reform, but has become a "national disgrace".Webb also sees
the drug war as the primary cause for the overpopulation of our prison system, and recently
told CNN that marijuana legalizationis one of the policy changes that should be considered:

"Well, I thinkwhat we need to do is to put all of the issues on the table
 ... If yougo back to 1980 as a starting point, I think we had 40,000 people inprison on drug
charges, and today, we have about 500,000 of them," thefirst-term Virginia lawmaker said.
"And the great majority of those arenonviolent crimes-possession crimes or minor sales."
Any discussion of being smart on crime in New York must broach thesubject of
marijuana arrests.

New York City now leads the world in lowlevel marijuana arrests. Even though surveys show
half of American adults have used marijuana and a similar amount want to see marijuana
made legal, arrests are at all time high in NYC. Since 2002, there havebeen over 255,000
arrests for misdemeanor possession.

As District Attorney, Cy Vance Jr. should find solutions to this costly and ineffective
policing policy.

The voters of Manhattan spoke out and elected Cy Vance Jr. as theirdistrict attorney.
Vance said he will try new approaches to cut crimeand I wish him luck.

The message I give to Mr.Vance is that if he adoptsa balanced approach to justice that
incorporates compassion, he will goa long way. And as for Judge Snyder, I bid her farewell
and I wish herride on a slow boat to China is a good one.

Anthony Papa is the author of 15 To Life and a communications
specialist for the Drug Policy Alliance Network  

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