The city’s top prosecutors are going to forgive and forget. The district attorneys from Harlem to Hollis, Queens announced this week they are dismissing nearly 700,000 warrants for low-level crimes committed more than 10 years ago.
The prosecutors said in a press release the move will let the suspects move on with their lives and relieve burdens on the court system. The attorneys insisted their “unprecedented step” “poses no threat to public safety” since the warrants were for failure to pay tickets for minor crimes.
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The district attorneys in the release cited a range of benefits in dismissing the warrants.
Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez said the move will build trust between residents and law enforcement and allow authorities to focus on violent crime.
Calling her borough “ground zero for summonses emanating from questionable stop-and-frisks,” Bronx DA Darcel Clark said dismissing the warrants will “improve the lives of tens of thousands of Bronx residents.”
She noted that when she was a judge working in the Bronx’s overwhelmed courts, she dismissed many low-level cases because they were “legally insufficient.”
And Queens DA Richard Brown noted the NYPD has vetted the list of warrants and excluded the most flagrant violations so the suspects can still be brought to justice.
The New York Civil Liberties Union welcomed the four other DAs’ move.
“It’s about time the city does something to mitigate the harm that has been perpetrated on communities of color,” the civil rights group’s Executive Director Donna Lieberman told NY1. “The hundreds of thousands of open warrants for minor offenses are the legacy of decades of broken windows policing.”
Recent years have seen the NYPD reduce the number of street stops made by officers, a practice that critics said unfairly targeted black and Latino New Yorkers.
Photo credit: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. speaks to the media after a bail hearing was held for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former International Monetary Fund head, at Manhattan Criminal Court May 19, 2011 in New York. State Supreme Court Judge Michael Obus said that Strauss-Kahn, 62, can be released on one million USD cash bail, and placed under 24-hour home detention with electronic monitoring — conditions that had been proposed by his lawyers. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
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