Alvin Bragg will give millions in seized assets to mental health nonprofit

 July 7, 2023

In an unusual move, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has announced a plan to take seized assets and give them to a Harlem-based nonprofit group focused on mental health. 

According to Amsterdam News, Bragg is disbursing $6 million through his office's Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (CJII).

Money to come from prosecuted banks

The money will be directed to an organization known as The Bridge as part of a plan to help it "provide peer services to key areas in the borough."

This will involve "Neighborhood Navigators" being tasked with finding people who are in need of mental health assistance as well as identifying barriers to them getting help.

Funds for the initiative are to be drawn from a $250 million pool of assets taken from major banks that have been prosecuted for financial crimes.

The News quoted a statement from Bragg that read, "By [addressing] fundamental needs like access to a safe home and mental health care, we can improve public safety in our communities."

Plan to target "individuals with the most deeply entrenched mental health issues"

"While New York has an extensive array of governmental and community-based service providers, individuals with the most deeply entrenched mental health issues often lack the trust in these systems to even try and access them," he continued.

"Meeting people where they are and building trust is the best way toward long-term solutions for these individuals and the communities in which they reside," the Manhattan district attorney insisted.

Sheryl Silver serves as The Bridge's senior vice president, and she put out a statement of her own, saying, "There’s no requirement for someone to come to any place that we are at. The idea is we are going to where they are."

"That’s where the relationship begins…it’s just trying to figure out what it is that has kept somebody from accessing the services and that’s not necessarily the same thing for everybody," she added.

Bragg draws fire for handling of Jordan Neely case

His new funding initiative is far from being the only reason that Bragg has drawn attention in recent months, as he has also pursued criminal cases that critics say are politically motivated.

Bragg's office brought manslaughter charges last month against former Marine Daniel Penny over the subway choking death of Jordan Neely, someone who had a long history of violence against children and the elderly.

That led Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy to suggest that by allowing Neely to remain on the street, Bragg was culpable for his death.

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