New York City Throws Out 640,000 Outstanding Warrants and Freed These People From Fear of Arrest

by Tevye –

On Wednesday, in a single afternoon, 640,000 people who hadn’t paid their fines for minor offenses such as parking violations, drinking in public, spitting, littering, walking a dog without a leash,…will no longer have to fear arrest.

Many were homeless and that were given tickets…for being homeless. Sleeping in their cars or in the park. Panhandling. Not having a fixed abode. Over 90,000 of these were dismissed.

In Brooklyn, the court erupted in applause as the D.A. dismissed close to 144,000 cases.

Said Brooklyn D.A. Eric Gonzalez, “Someone who owes a $25 fine should not be arrested and brought down to central booking and spend 20 or 24 hours in a cell next to a hardened criminal. That’s not fair, and that’s not justice.”

In the Bronx, 160,000 cases.

“The people who have these warrants have not been in trouble with the law for a decade or more, and it is time that they are given the opportunity to live productive lives, free from summonses hanging over their heads,” said Bronx D.A. Darcel Clark.

In Manhattan, 240,000 cases were dismissed.

Said Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance, “Outstanding warrants for years-old, low-level cases drive law enforcement and communities apart. They’re law-abiding New Yorkers who committed a petty offense years ago and have not been in trouble with the law since.”

And in Queens, 100,000 cases.

Said Richard A. Brown, Queens D.A., another reason he was overwhelmingly for this was, “…for potential employers who might also see the warrant during a background check and not hire them for that reason alone.”

The only borough that did not participate was Staten Island.

Staten Island D.A. Michael McMahon had this to say. “I believe that issuing blanket amnesty for these offenses is unfair to those citizens who responsibly appear in court and sends the wrong message about the importance of respecting our community and our laws.”

The move has been talked about for years amongst the various D.A.’s, but it took this long to get it all together.

It was enthusiastically hailed by the mayor’s office. Mayor Bill de Blasio stated, “arrests on such warrants tie up police time that could be better spent addressing more serious offenses.”

A statement from the New York City Council stated, “Those are lives we’re talking about that are impacted. This is not just a number. There’s a person behind that warrant.”

Previously, if someone had reported a crime, had a car accident or a minor infraction, or was homeless… they could have been arrested for not showing up to a court date for a minor infraction a decade ago.

In NYC…no longer.

Hopefully, other cities, towns, municipalities, etc will follow suit.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos