Tiffany Cabán started 2019 as a 31-year-old public defender in her native New York City. She knew that the criminal justice system wasn’t working for her clients or for the city. Something had to change, and she decided that she would be the change agent.

With encouragement from a small circle of friends and fellow reformers, she entered the race for district attorney in Queens. There were other candidates running in the Democratic primary, better known candidates with more money and more political connections. But Cabán embraced a movement politics that took its cues from grassroots activists and policy specialists. She declared, “I am a public defender. I have spent my career working for people who did not have resources to defend themselves against the brutal system of mass incarceration. I am running to transform the Queens District Attorney’s office after years of witnessing its abuses on the front lines.”

Tens of thousands joined in. This movement campaign electrified activists not just in Queens and New York City but across the country. On the primary election night in June, Cabán finished narrowly ahead. An extended recount cost her the nomination. But she has not stopped building the movement to transform a criminal justice system that fails to deliver justice.

This week, Tiffany Cabán is our guest on Next Left.

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Show Notes

Tiffany Cabán Was the Next Progressive Hope. Now What? New York Times, Jan Ransom and Jeffery C Mays

How Tiffany Cabán Lost the Vote But Won the Fight in Queens, Jacobin, Amir Khafagy

Public Defender Cabán Enters Crowded DA Race, Queens Daily Eagle, David Brand

Tiffany Cabán’s Rebel Campaign in Queens, New Yorker, Jennifer Gonnerman

Tiffany Cabán Wants to Transform What It Means to Be a DA, The Nation, Isabel Cristo

What Tiffany Cabán’s Concession Means for Queens, The Nation, Ross Barkan

Good As Hell,” Lizzo