I first met Tiffany Cabán directly before Valentine’s Day, in a crowded cafe no longer from the downtown Manhattan court. She was nevertheless working cases as a public defender. Two weeks before, she had announced her marketing campaign to end up the following district attorney in Queens
. Last night time, she beat the percentages, putting forward victory in a number one race that changed into, from the start, an indictment of how the criminal justice system operates in the borough, if not the metropolis, and now, the kingdom. Should the contemporary vote counts keep her choice, she will become the Democratic nominee, almost ensuring her a win in November.
Tiffany Cabán is 31, queer, Latinx, and already visible as a growing superstar inside the new cadre of ladies coming to energy. As a district legal professional, she will be the most effective elected official in Queens, presiding over 2 million humans, a population larger than 15 states, and the District of Columbia.
Since her victory speech Tuesday night at La Boom nightclub on Northern Boulevard, most assessments of her campaign have targeted her outstanding grassroots operation. According to the journalist Daniel Medina, volunteers knocked between 55,000 and 70,000 doors in the remaining three days of the race, six instances of the quantity Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did in the last stretch of her marketing campaign.
Cabán was driving a wave of support from the Democratic Socialists of America and the Working Families Party at the side of grassroots organizations in Queens like Make the Road and VOCAL-NY, and Ocasio-Cortez, who recommended her in May. But Cabán owes her victory extra to her precise method to crook justice reform, which set her aside from the candidate the Queen’s political gadget had desired and poured around $1 million into electing: Borough President Melinda Katz.
While Katz (alongside all but one of the seven total candidates) wanted to be seen as a revolutionary reformer, Cabán sought the workplace in component to dismantle its devastating energy. She referred to herself as a “decarceral” prosecutor. In February, she advised me she hoped to mitigate the damage the crook felony machine inflicts by being attentive to Queens’s people and taking her cues from them. “It’s approximately groups,” she stated, telling me her now-famous stance on decriminalizing sex work. “It’s approximately grouped understanding themselves pleasantly.”
Cabán’s radical commitment to incarceration—beyond reforms that are easier to sell to the public, such as releasing most effective people with nonviolent offenses on their information—sets her apart even from different newly elected “revolutionary prosecutors” throughout the United States of America. It also owes decades of labor on the part of anti-racist and feminist companies like INCITE!, in conjunction with newer coalitions like Survived & Punished, which have long been referred to as options for policing and prosecution to hold communities safe.
Of course, no longer all such abolitionist organizations are lining up to put in progressive prosecutors; they must dismantle the device. But they have until currently been nearly on my own in performing a counterweight to feminism that sees the police and prosecutors as allies in girls’ empowerment, a feminism that focuses on putting extra of that punitive power within girls’ hands.
That brand of feminism has often been observed as a home in district legal professionals’ offices. As an example, Linda Fairstein was a Manhattan sex crimes prosecutor heralded in the town as a girls’ champion towards rape. In the 1989 Central Park jogger case, she helped ship five black and Latinx teens from Harlem to jail for the rape of a person she later confessed. (She has been made notorious again after Ava DuVernay’s new collection When They See Us premiered this month, an occasion she used to insist once more she became proper to prosecute Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise—this, lengthy after their convictions were vacated in 2002.)
In Fairstein’s telling, she changed into sincerely protecting women and maintaining their security. This is also how she justified criminalizing intercourse with people. As the historian Anne Gray Fischer has stated in The Washington Post, at a New York State Bar Association listening to within the mid-’80s, Fairstein called ladies within the intercourse exchange “the best victim of the crime” even as additionally decrying sex work as “very un-feminist activity.” It’s a commonplace carceral feminist approach: arrest women if you want to guard them against themselves.