To our supporters, thank you for everything. The fight continues.

Janos Marton
4 min readDec 14, 2020

Dear friends,

I launched this campaign because policing and prisons aren’t the answer to society’s problems, and because it’s time to invest directly in the people and communities most harmed by mass incarceration. We are incredibly proud of the way we’ve organized around that vision during an immensely challenging year.

Unfortunately, at this moment I am no longer able to continue my campaign for Manhattan District Attorney. I wanted you to be the first to understand why we came to that difficult decision:

Too often in politics, “support” is measured by the amount of money raised, rather than metrics like the number of donors or volunteers, let alone the strength of ideas. While our campaign received more that 3,150 donations from more than 2,000 donors — with an average contribution of $50 — our lack of large donations from rich donors put us at a disadvantage, especially since our race has no matching funds. (Under the city’s matching fund program, we would have been eligible for $500,000.)

Given the political implications of our fundraising disadvantage, at this time we do not have a viable path to victory. While we have the energy to press on, I cannot ask our team and supporters to continue devoting themselves to a race we cannot win.

I’ve denounced the role of money in our politics for my whole career, and investigated its negative impact in New York, most notably as a special counsel to the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption. Right now, the maximum donation in the Manhattan DA’s race is $37,000, an obscene amount. My hope, from seeing our campaign finance system up close, is that the state legislature will reform the campaign finance laws in New York DA races, especially given the need to keep District Attorneys from undue influence.

While this is a difficult day, we also exit this race with much to be proud of.

  • We released nine policy papers on reforming our criminal legal system, more than any other candidate. These policies were bold, designed with the input of directly impacted people and other experts, and often became the gold standard for the race, such as a commitment to cut the Manhattan jail population by 80%, cap sentences at 20 years, and abolish the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor — all policies endorsed by leading criminal justice organizations and other candidates.
  • We were the first campaign to call for cutting the NYPD budget by $1 billion, rallying with community groups and organizing 50 City Council candidates to sign on to that pledge.
  • We lived our values as a campaign. We built our team around people of color, including a formerly incarcerated organizer. We paid our interns. We centered directly impacted people in all of our policies.
  • We held dozens of events, highlighting the work of community leaders on issues like gun violence, COVID in prisons, and police accountability.
  • We built a powerful, volunteer-driven organizing program. More than 300 volunteers knocked on thousands of NYCHA doors (pre-COVID), called 100,000 people, texted nearly 200,000, and direct-messaged 18,000, making 6,000 positive IDs along the way. This outreach focused on investing in communities and moving past police & prisons to solve society’s problems. We are so grateful to every volunteer who supported this campaign. Thank you for building with us.

I will not be endorsing another candidate at this time. For nearly a year a half, we advanced a vision for transforming the criminal legal system based on my track record of fighting for criminal justice reform, my experience in leadership, and my specific vision for transformative policies.

In deciding which of the remaining candidates to support, I hope that you consider who can inspire historically marginalized communities with a new vision for justice, and who has the demonstrated track record and leadership skills to implement such a vision.

For me, no one has yet met that bar. But given how much this city means to me, I am certain to spend some of my energy in the coming months supporting people for various other offices who share my values and offer hope to their communities.

Finally, I want to thank the people who have inspired me during the past 18 months.

My amazing team of staff and interns.

The thousands of people who stood up for this campaign and lent their political support, volunteer time, small donations, and energy.

And most importantly, the people who are out in the streets, fighting for their neighborhoods every single day. I’ve met incredible Black and brown community leaders, many of whom are formerly incarcerated, who, without big government contracts or fancy offices, are doing the hard work of reducing violence and providing opportunities in neighborhoods so many elected officials have given up on. I will continue to be an ally and supporter to those people and organizations.

The hardest part of this is knowing that we are not going to be able to implement our vision for transformational justice, and the real lives that will affect. There was never going to be one person who could single-handedly end mass incarceration or bring true justice to our legal system, but hopefully this campaign has been a step forward in that direction. And the work of building a more just city and country does not end for me or anyone on my team today.

As long as the march for justice continues, we will continue to stand up for people, and stand up to power.



Janos Marton

Criminal justice advocate. Democratic Candidate For Manhattan District Attorney.