New York City has always been volatile when it comes to crimes. However, reforms in policing and stiffer sentences for all levels of crime have today, made the State and city one of the safest in the country.
For the past few years now, New York City has had a much lower crime rate keeping in mind its high population. The city government has just eased up on some of its judicial rules.
Starting this week, New York City will have new policy rules that will prevent the practice of bringing criminal charges against individuals who are caught drinking alcohol or urinating in public. This a major win for civil right advocates who have fought New York City council to curb the harsh penalties for minor offenses like drinking or urinating in public.
These events will now be considered minor offenses and would be associated with fines rather than being classified as a crime.
A major benefit of this rule is that it will also keep away thousands of individuals out of the city’s criminal courts every year, and relieve the stress on the justice system. These minor offenses will in most cases be treated as civil matters that will be penalized by undertaking community service or a monetary fine. The other benefit of this new law is that it will also prevent many immigrants from being targeted by ICE agents for deportation.
A few months ago, US president Donald Trump signed an order that expanded the focus of Federal agents to include removal of immigrants charged with any type of crime, even before any conviction.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City has not been in agreement with Trump’s approach to immigration policies and the city has refused to cooperate with any federal effort to deport immigrants by not turning them over to federal agents.
Sarah Solon, deputy director of the Mayor’s Council of Criminal Justice, stated that in a civil court case, there is a zero chance of any immigration consequences.
Prior to Tuesday any person caught urinating in public would have ended up with a criminal misdemeanor on their record and even fingerprinted. Because these fingerprints are automatically shared with federal law enforcements agencies and Immigration customs enforcement, these individual immediately gain the attention of these officials.
The Legal Aid Society and the American Civil Liberties Union have always argued that New York Police Department’s earlier focus on non-violent offenses and minors was completely unnecessary and more importantly, it placed a whole segment of immigrant population at risk for deportation.
Just last year, nearly 100,000 people were detained or issued criminal citation for public urination and drinking. How many of these were illegal immigrants is not known. However police can still issue criminal charges for individuals on parole or those who have been arrested at least twice for felonies in the past 24 months.