Anyone from Manhattan (New York County) and the Bronx who has littered, loitered or urinated in public and received a summons for it is in luck. The New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance has dismissed more than 240,000 warrants and The Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark has dismissed nearly 160,000 warrants.
“Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., today announced the dismissal of 240,472 summonses 10 years or older, eliminating the collateral consequences of years-old summons warrants for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and enabling them to collaborate more fully in their communities without fear of arrest,” accordiong to a release.
In the Bronx “nearly 160,000 summons warrants involving low-level, quality of life offenses that are 10 or more years old, allowing thousands of Bronxites to advance their lives.”
Vance said, “Outstanding warrants for years-old, low-level cases drive law enforcement and communities apart. New Yorkers with decade-old summons warrants face unnecessary employment, housing and immigration consequences, and because they fear they will be arrested for an old infraction, they don’t collaborate with law enforcement,” said a statement from the DA’s office.
Vance continued, “Today, with my counterparts in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, we are letting hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers come out of the shadows through the largest dismissal of outstanding summonses in city history. This is a major step forward in our shared effort to keep our neighborhoods safe by promoting collaboration between law enforcement and the New Yorkers it serves.”
On a video from the New York County District Attorney website, Vance stated in court, “Your Honor, as you know... there are more than 1.5 million summons warrants on file here in New York City, and over half of those are a decade old and these warrants are for offenses that are minor. The majority of them are not even characterized as criminal offenses.”
The Amsterdam News spoke to Erica Ford, who is the CEO and founder of LIFE Camp Inc., which trains teens and adults to become peer leaders to avoid becoming perpetrators or victims of violence. Ford said, “This shows that there is a breakdown to ticketing and arrests in community.”
Arresting people for minor offenses does not change the problems of the community, according to Ford. “We have to find a different way to solve the quality of life problems and minor problems,” She said, adding that when people are arrested for minor offenses, “they become traumatized.”
Clark said, “These 159,394 summonses are 10 years or older and are for minor offenses such as drinking alcohol in public or riding a bicycle on a sidewalk. We know that quality of life is important to the community, but given the 10-year passage of time, and many of these offenses are now decriminalized, these offenses no longer pose public safety concerns that would justify jailing people.”
Clark continued, “In addition to leading to jail, an unresolved warrant can pose obstacles to employment, obtaining citizenship, housing or educational opportunities, and prevent people from becoming productive members of society. 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.”
Clark concluded, “As a result, I move to vacate and to dismiss these matters in the interest of justice. After consultation with the other NYC District Attorneys, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the NYPD, the City Council and the Office of Court Administration, I submit that this is simply the right thing to do.”