Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Big Apple may decriminalize public peeing
In her first State of the City speech, New York's City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito pushed for the cops to make fewer arrests of New Yorkers for minor offenses, including fare-beating and public urination.
“Far too many of our young people — mostly low-income black and Latino males — are locked up at Rikers,” she said in the speech. “These are people who are accused of minor offenses and are still considered innocent in the eyes of the law. This is not justice.”
“We cannot continue to lock up those accused of low level, non-violent offenses without recognizing the dire, long-term consequences to them and to our city,” she said.
Mayoral spokeswoman Monica Klein said Mayor de Blasio supports summons reform, but declined to comment on whether he supports the specific proposal.
“The mayor has made a clear commitment to reforming the summons process, and the speaker’s proposal is under review in consultation with NYPD,” Klein said.
A Daily News analysis shows the seven offenses that would be sent to one of the city’s administrative civil courts under the Mark-Viverito plan account for roughly 2.7 million, or 42%, of the summonses issued by the NYPD between 2001 and June 2014. They also account for more than 510,000 open arrest warrants, according to the analysis of data provided by the state Office of Court Administration.
The measures, still the focus of ongoing negotiations, could pit some Council members against Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who raised questions about the potential changes just last month.
Violators would get a ticket to one of the city’s administrative courts, such as the Environmental Control Board, instead of criminal court. Cops could no longer make arrests for those offenses, and missed court dates would turn into default monetary judgments instead of warrants.
Bratton appears cool to the idea, saying people wouldn’t take a civil ticket seriously.
“I’m not supportive of the idea of civil summonses for these offenses because I think that they’d be basically totally ignored, that they don’t have any bite to them, if you will.”