NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After 10 months of negotiations, the New York City Council presented its package of bills regarding the handling of low level offenses.
The package, known as the Criminal Justice Reform Act, is aimed at handing out fairer punishments and easing the burden of backlogged criminal courts.
It does not decriminalize any offenses.
“Everything that was unlawful yesterday, remains unlawful today, it remains unlawful tomorrow,” Councilmember Vanessa Gibson said Monday.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the package of bills simply shifts the low level offenses, such as public urination and turnstile jumping, to a civil tribunal at the discretion of a police officer, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.
“Right now a police officer can charge you with a misdemeanor for being in a park after dark, and the consequences can be a permanent criminal record for being in the park after dark,” she said.
Under the current policy, less than a quarter of the criminal summonses for low level crimes in New York result in convictions, 1010 WINS’ Steve Kastenbaum reported. Of those, more than 99 percent wind up with a fine, not jail time.
Mark-Viverito said the package would not change the end result.
“So the fine is being imposed either way, what is the real difference between sending a case to a civil tribunal instead of a criminal court?”she asked.
Elizabeth Glazer of the mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice said New York City is proof that we can have both more safety and a lighter criminal justice touch.