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William O. Wagstaff has a vision for a reimagined Westchester County District Attorney’s office that values long-term results vs. short-term actions and consequences. William seeks to create a DA office culture shift, favoring a system in which the law is applied equally and for those who are eligible, are presented with alternatives to incarceration that fit their needs to break the cycle of crime.


Data Driven Model to Reduce Crime

The implementation of data-driven solutions can help address gun violence, hate crimes, domestic violence, and property crimes – a method that ensures we are serious about safety and results, not just following rhetoric. My office will optimize the collection and analysis of case data to better understand drivers of crime. The office will then collaborate with the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches to implement initiatives to prevent crime and reduce recidivism. It is critical to transition the office from being solely responsive to crime via prosecution, and place emphasis on crime prevention to improve public safety. 

Reimagine Office Culture

As the gatekeepers of the criminal legal system, the policies prosecutors put into place and the culture of their offices have an immeasurable impact on the pursuit of justice in their community and the system as a whole. It is critical that we partner with other agencies to gather and share data on charging, plea dispositions, sentencing, findings of prosecutorial misconduct, pretrial detention rates resulting from an inability to pay bail, diversion participation and completion, and other outcomes that will help the office achieve more than just prosecutorial wins but tangible improvements in public safety in each of our communities.


Community outreach is essential to all of this work. The DA’s office needs to operate with a culture of transparency and welcome the community to feel a part of the office. Members of the DA’s office need to be involved in community outreach regularly. From coaching youth sports to helping important nonprofit organizations within the county, the DA’s office must be forward facing to not only address ongoing issues, but to give the community a sense of pride in knowing these individuals are the ones tasked with keeping them safe.

Charge with Restraint and Plea-Bargain Fairly

Prosecutors have nearly unchecked authority to choose the criminal charges they file, with enormous leverage over guilty pleas and the final disposition of cases. To create a district attorney’s office that is holistically focused on addressing underlying issues, it is imperative that we charge with restraint and plea-bargain fairly. My office will end the practice of making plea offers on cases that cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, thus ending the current policy of encouraging defendants to consider charges they would not ultimately be prosecuted for if the case moved forward.

Address Racial Disparity

Racial Disparities are an ongoing issue in our society and need to be addressed – particularly in the criminal legal system to provide more equitable outcomes. I am committed to reducing racial disparities that arise from prosecutorial practices. The office can and should track and release race and gender data for bail requests, plea bargains, sentencing recommendations, and parole board recommendations. An outside source should be permitted at intervals to review the data, evaluate, and make recommendations to reduce disparities. Internally the practice should aim to use risk assessment tools with caution. Internally, staff must be educated, as well as other stakeholders, about the potential to compound bias and consider tools designed to actively reduce racial departures.


It is critical that both internal and external communication is geared to educate and promote reflective conversations about the role of prosecutors in racial inequity. Partners in law enforcement and other agencies must also be engaged in meaningfully comparing and addressing racial disparities at different points in the system.


Use Diversion to Reduce Recidivism

Well-designed programs for people facing felony as well as misdemeanor charges are imperative. Working with people who commit more serious offenses may offer the greatest payoff in terms of reducing recidivism and improving long-term public safety. Those who are eligible for diversionary programs will be sent there as early as possible in an effort to break the cycle of crime. My office will be firmly committed to breaking the cycle of crime by utilizing diversion as a tool in that effort. This will ensure that those who can be reintegrated in our communities can do so while still being helding accountable.


Encourage Treatment of Mental Health & Drug Addiction

The alarming increase of co-occurring disorders (mental illness and addiction) have frequently resulted in increased rates of crime. Individuals who commit crimes because of an underlying addiction or illness can frequently be placed in an appropriate treatment program. My office will employ public health models as a starting point for developing responses to individuals in crisis and promote community-based services to stabilize people who otherwise end up in jail. Similar to the 911 diversion program employed in the county, we will support crisis-intervention training of law enforcement to de-escalate situations involving individuals with mental illness and reduce the likelihood of use of force or arrest as a response. As part of this effort we will offer drug treatment programs with evidence-based solutions, such as medication-assisted treatment, to treat use and relapse as part of recovery.


Promote Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is a community-based approach to responding to the harm that crime causes. In a group setting, individuals charged with crimes talk to the people they hurt, sharing stories and working toward accountability, repair, and rehabilitation. Research shows that crime victims often do not feel that prosecution and sentencing serve them well; restorative justice can help address their concerns. These programs have a consistent track record of achieving lower recidivism rates than traditional penalties, including for serious offenses. My office will implement restorative justice programs so that we can support victims through the healing process to engage them in the community while also holding those charged with crimes accountable for their actions in a unique setting.


Create an Immigrant Affairs Bureau

The Westchester County District Attorney’s office is in a unique position to better support our immigrant community. There are criminal charges and convictions that can trigger detention and deportation proceedings for people who are not U.S. Citizens, subjecting them to greater collateral punishments and taking them away from their families. Immigrants are also frequently the victims of scams and wage theft. These threats to immigrants discourage the reporting of crimes, making communities less safe. 


The ideal method to accomplish this is to create an Immigration Affairs Bureau. Educated staff will be directed to include in plea discussions and sentencing recommendations the consideration of immigration consequences of a conviction. When two similarly weighted charges have different immigration consequences, when appropriate, choose the immigration-neutral charge. Additionally, we know as a result of larger national policies related to immigrants that crimes have been under-reported against members of this specific community, and they are also targeted by employers and scam artists. My office will engage in outreach specifically to our immigrant population in concert with county and non-profit partners to educate them on their rights.

Support Law Enforcement Officers While Holding Them Accountable

The criminal legal system has been under tremendous scrutiny for many years over the interactions with police and civilians. This is not a new issue, however it has gained additional media attention in the wake of acts of violence like those against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many more, and we must do more to provide support and educational tools to our police force while demanding accountability for their actions.


  • Create a team to support local police department investigations on homicide cases.

  • Enhance the Domestic Violence Unit to better address persistent DV victims and suspects, providing greater support to local departments.

  • Host quarterly meetings with municipal police leadership.

  • Develop and run continuous training programs for ADA’s, investigators, and police on search and seizure, use of force, arrests, etc.

  • Work with law enforcement partners on prompt and public disclosure of body and dash cam videos.


Fiscally Responsible Office Management

The Westchester County District Attorney has a responsibility to cut long term tax expenditures on the criminal legal system. As the chief law enforcement officer for the county it is critical to manage the office in a fiscally responsible manner. This can be done by thoroughly reviewing office expenditures, including contracts with outside consultants. The process can also be made more efficient by reducing delays from charging to disposition and diverting those who are eligible. I will also look at the programs currently being employed and end those that are not yielding desired results.


My office will also work with legislators to reallocate funds that become available into programs that are proven to increase public safety and reduce recidivism. I will advocate for the reinvestment of savings in crime prevention to provide resources to law enforcement, reduce recidivism, and improve the lives of people and communities affected by incarceration. All of these issues further exacerbate cost to taxpayers and impact peoples’ lives so it is critical to recalibrate with updated data.


I also intend to use my background in business to ensure the DA’s office is running as smoothly as possible. Taxpayers should understand that their hard-earned tax dollars are being used for the pursuit of justice and public safety, and their DA plans to create budgets that fit the needs of the county without unnecessary spending.

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