The contentious race for Brooklyn District Attorney in the upcoming September 10 primary elections offers voters a stark contrast – the highly experienced and accomplished incumbent, Charles “Joe” Hynes, and the largely unknown novice contender Ken Thompson. Based on a thorough review of the facts, the Jewish Voice firmly believes there is only one clear choice – Mr. Hynes deserves to retain his office for another term.
Hynes’ achievements over his lengthy term as Brooklyn D.A. are quite numerous and impressive, but due to space limitations, we can only provide a basic review here. First and foremost, Hynes has made major strides in keeping the residents of Brooklyn safe. At the time he first took office in 1990, the borough was plagued with 780 murders a year; by 2012, the number had plummeted to 149 – the first time it had registered under 150 since 1960. Several of D.A. Hynes’ innovative programs contributed quite significantly toward this result – his re-entry program, ComALERT, which helps the formerly incarcerated reconnect with society and has a recidivism rate of just 22 percent, less than half of the result when no program is offered; his gun buyback program, which locally resulted in the removal of approximately 2400 guns from the streets, and – after city-wide replication – retrieved more than 7,000 firearms; Back on Track, his residential alternative to prison drug treatment programs, which provides educational, job and life skills for children in Brownsville; Legal Lives, which has assistant district attorneys visit schools to talk about making the right choices in life; and Project Re-Direct, which combats Brooklyn’s gang dilemma by diversion programs, education programs that inform youth about the reality and negative outcome of gang culture and effective prosecution.
In matters of specific interest to Brooklyn’s Jewish community, Charles Hynes has taken strong measures to curb sexual abuse of both adults and children, and bring perpetrators of this unsettling – yet often hidden – crime to justice. His Kol Tzedek (Voice of Justice) program offers a telephone hotline wherein trained Orthodox female outreach staff use sensitivity and tenacity to persuade callers from the community to report instances of abuse. The results of this initiative speak for themselves – more than 100 individuals have been brought up for prosecution, and Kol Tzedek is largely credited with helping lift the veil of secrecy and fear within the Orthodox community on this issue. Additionally, Hynes’ Project Eden addresses domestic violence issues in the Orthodox communities of Brooklyn through education and training programs.
D.A. Hynes has racked up notable accomplishments in other important areas as well. In addition to the youth-oriented services mentioned above, his Youth & Congregation in Partnership (YCP) is a program run in partnership with the Brooklyn court system and volunteer mentors from faith communities for at risk youth. Moreover, Hynes’ Trauma Troopers II is an intensive mentoring and job skills program for court-involved youth ages 14 to 22.
The scope and depth of crime prevention and community safety programs developed under Charles Hynes’ strong and visionary leadership are nothing short of breathtaking. Saving Teens at Risk (STAR) program gives teenagers involved in the degrading world of prostitution a way out by providing such crucial services as counseling, employment opportunities and GED programs. Hynes’ establishment of the Senior Affairs Unit, run by assistant district attorneys and other staff members, reaches out to seniors at senior citizen centers to educate them on crime prevention strategies and provide them with a direct liaison to assist with any community issues that concern them. The veteran D.A.’s Barrier Free Justice program provides domestic violence victims with disabilities access to work with case workers and obtain legal guidance from attorneys.
Apparently, a number of respected elected officials and communal leaders agree with us that Hynes has done an outstanding job over his more than two decades in office. Popular Brooklyn City Councilmember David Greenfield has heartily endorsed Hynes, and he has been joined by Yidel Perlstein, Chairman of Boro Park’s Community Board, as well as representatives of Brooklyn’s Bobov, Satmar, Munkatch and Skver communities. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, State Senator (and expected borough president) Eric Adams, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, and City Councilmember Vincent Gentile – just to name a few – have all lent their affirmative backing to Hynes.
With regard to Mr. Hynes’ sole opponent in the race, Ken Thompson, the stark reality is that virtually no one had heard of him prior to his entering the race for Brooklyn D.A. While he has some background in the legal field, Thompson has essentially no record of public accomplishment to speak of. How can we take a chance on such an unknown and unproven entity when it comes to taking over the reins of an office with such weighty influence on our daily lives? How can the Jewish community gamble on an individual who has apparently never been intimately familiar with the issues that concern us? The risk is simply too great to contemplate.
The Jewish Voice has absolutely no doubt – Charles Hynes is the only choice for Brooklyn District Attorney. We urge our readers to cast their vote accordingly this September.