New York City

New York City to Dismiss Hundreds of Thousands of Old Warrants for Minor Crimes

Should we credit the crackdown on immigration enforcement?

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warrant chart
Manhattan D.A.'s Office

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio may continue to defend "broken windows policing," but prosecutors in his town are increasingly ill at ease with the long-term consequences when police constantly cite citizens for low-level, nonviolent crimes.

This week, prosecutors from Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens announced they were moving to dismiss nearly 650,000 old warrants for unpaid citations from things like public drinking to violating park rules. According to The New York Times, prosecutors have been hammering out this plan for three years.

Surprisingly, de Blasio supports the district attorneys' decision, even though he continues to defend the police practice of issuing citations no matter how small the infraction. But that may be explained by the fact that all of these warrants are at least a decade old. Either the people involved aren't around anymore, or they aren't going to pay the money anyway, or 450 or so reckless spitters have failed to induce apocalyptic anarchy in the Big Apple.

Even though there's no push to go back and track these thousands of people down, there are still potential consequences of having an active warrant out when a citizen ends up interacting with police. Brooklyn D.A. Eric Gonzalez worried about people getting dragged into a jail and booked for an old citation worth $25.

While this has been in the works for years, the officials are also clearly concerned about President Donald Trump's efforts to increase immigration enforcement and push out illegal immigrants. These citations are used as justifications to round up and deport people here illegally if they get they get detained for these warrants. Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. noted the consequences of these warrants remaining active, the Times reports:

"New Yorkers with 10-year-old summons warrants face unnecessary unemployment risk, housing and immigration consequences," Mr. Vance told Criminal Court Judge Tamiko A. Amaker in Manhattan. "And because they fear they will be arrested for the old infraction, they often don't collaborate with law enforcement."

New York can't run afoul of Trump's war on sanctuary cities if they don't go around citing and arresting immigrants, can they? Criminal justice reform advocates have been pushing cities to reconsider low-level enforcement practices for this very reason. Every encounter between a police officer and an immigrant now includes additional risks.

In June Vance announced a concerted effort to reduce low-level criminal prosecutions of minor crimes in Manhattan by 20,000 a year, declining to prosecute subway turnstile jumpers (unless they present some other public safety threat) and focusing on early diversion programs for first-time arrestees for low-level crimes. It's a shame, though, that nobody seems to be interested in considering whether they should wipe some of these laws themselves off the books.

I should note that Staten Island's district attorney declined to join the effort. Offering amnesty for these citations, even though they're a decade old, "sends the wrong message about the importance of respecting our community and our laws," he said in a statement. If you once walked around with an unleashed dog, you'll get no mercy from him.

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  1. If they’re dismissing them, it’s because there’s no money in it. Don’t give to much credit to the overlords.

    1. These are loss leaders which would have eventually paid huge dividends to the debtor’s prison industry.

    2. Does this include ALL park rule violations? Asking for a friend.

  2. Where my broken windows gone?

    1. Gone to glaziers everyone….

      1. O when will they ever learn?

        Once again, in libturd-ville, a criminal is not a criminal if one of their crimes is illegally invading America.

    2. The chinchilla cage has windows?

  3. So, if the New York Prosecutors are telling the truth, we have one serious benefit from Trump’s immigration enforcement policy!

    And, quite seriously, this is one of the reasons I want to see the immigration laws enforced. There is too much goddamned law, and far too much of it gets enforced only when the Authorities feel like it. I don’t think we can enforce all the laws all the time, but any push to enforce an unpopular one highlights the necessity of a) making enforcement more evenhanded and b) getting rid of or drastically altering laws that cannot be enforced at all evenhandedly.

    There has to be a balance point between the kind of 1970’s lawless mess I remember New York City being when I was a young fella, and the sanitized Disney annex Times Square is (reportedly) now. And maybe showing people where the policy of ‘let’s ticket everybody’ leads is a way to start.

    1. Another thing along you point that there are too many laws is that many exceptions are made, so many Americans never feel the pain of said plethora of laws. Making sure every law breaker is aware that there is a lot of human behavior is against the law.

      This way people will want to roll back the numbers of laws passed.

    2. I want to see the immigration laws enforced. There is too much goddamned law

      heh?

      if the New York Prosecutors are telling the truth

      Don’t they always?

  4. “Surprisingly, de Blasio supports the district attorneys’ decision, even though he continues to defend the police practice of issuing citations no matter how small the infraction.”
    You cannot get people into the Nanny/Police State databases without demanding their IDs and writing citations.

  5. And because they fear they will be arrestedchoked to death for the old infraction, they often don’t collaborate with law enforcement.

    That’s better.

    1. I for one am glad you let loosies with both barrels on that.

  6. So, they are doing it to protect illegals.

    Must be nice for New Yorkers to known that illegals mean more than they do.

    1. You kind of get what you deserve living in a city like that.

      Its a cesspool of corruption, high taxes, and well generally shitty people.

      The silver lining is that its been a target for terrorists for-eva.

  7. I want to know why turnstile-hopping (i.e. theft – an actual crime) is always put on the same level as spitting or loitering in a park.

    1. Won’t someone please think of the victims of those dastardly turnstile-hoppers?

      1. The victims in this case are the taxpayers who now have to pay even higher taxes & fares in order to support these thieves. It’s not rocket science.

        1. Someone has to pick up that garbage in the park as well.

          1. I clean up after myself.

    2. turnstile-hopping (i.e. theft – an actual crime)

      Fuck that, as far as I’m concerned turnstile jumping deprives the city government of revenue. That’s something that any libertarian should be able to get behind.

      1. The same principle holds regardless of who is operating the service.

        1. I was mostly being sarcastic. And yes, I know, the government just increases taxes and fares on the people who are dumb enough (sarcasm again) to pay them.

      2. What if you hop right back out?

      3. No a libertarian would get behind privatizing the subway. The proper function of government is to defend individual negative liberty with the retaliatory use of force, period.

    3. I see you caught grief for this comment, but it’s actually a good question if you ask me. One has a specific harm, the other two absolutely do not.

  8. You know who else overlooked past transgressions?

    1. Venezuelan truth commissions?

    2. Wait, when did Hitler ever overlook past transgressions?

    3. James Comey, circa last August?

  9. It’s a shame, though, that nobody seems to be interested in considering whether they should wipe some of these laws themselves off the books.

    But if they did that then they wouldn’t have the option of going back to ruining people’s lives for petty offenses that shouldn’t even be crimes in the first place.

  10. the people involved … aren’t going to pay the money anyway

    Cool. Maybe they should try that approach with their taxHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!! Damn, couldn’t quite get it out!

  11. So Eric Garner might get a break on his record for selling loosies?

    1. I am still sad for that dude.

  12. the officials are also clearly concerned about President Donald Trump’s efforts to increase immigration enforcement and push out illegal immigrants. These citations are used as justifications to round up and deport people here illegally if they get they get detained for these warrants.

    Or, in other words, because we value illegal immigrants more than our own citizens we’re going to stop fucking people over as much. Make no mistake, it’s not because we value our voting constituents, it’s because we don’t want illegal immigrants to be deported.

    I’m really glad they cleared that up for us. For a nano-second I thought New York might have briefly pulled it’s collective head out of it’s own asshole, but then they saw their shadow and dove right back in.

    1. What makes you think the illegal immigrants aren’t voting constituents? Or, at least, having their names used on ballots?

      1. Well if they have an assumed identity, a felony by the by, then they probably could but it would be exceedingly difficult to catch it in that instance. Frankly I wouldn’t be ok with a system that goes deep enough to catch something like that anyway. It would be way more likely to disqualify citizens on paperwork technicalities than people breaking the law in this way.

  13. Why DON’T the lazy NYPD fine the Mets and Yankees for spitting? There is incontrovertible video evidence of most infractions, and the published salaries indicate the fines are well within reasonable amounts.

  14. Privatize the Mayor’s Office.

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