June 30, 2017 |
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced new justice reform initiatives that will end the criminal prosecution of approximately 20,000 low-level offenses annually. Beginning in September 2017, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office will no longer prosecute the overwhelming majority of individuals charged with Theft of Services for subway-related offenses, unless there is a demonstrated public safety reason to do so.
Building on the success of the Manhattan Summons Initiative launched by District Attorney Vance and the NYPD in March 2016 – which was subsequently replicated citywide – the policies being announced today will:
- Prevent New Yorkers accused of committing these offenses from accumulating a criminal record or ever setting foot in a courtroom
- Reduce the immigration, housing, employment and other collateral consequences associated with criminal prosecution
- Enable the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to focus its resources on investigating more serious crimes, such as domestic violence, drunk driving, stalking, and assault cases
- Reduce the backlog of cases in Manhattan Criminal Court
- Strengthen bonds between law enforcement and the community members we serve, and
- Reduce the jail population of Rikers Island, in order to achieve the goal of its ultimate closure.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said: “The criminal prosecution of these low-level, non-violent offenses should not be a part of a reformed 21st-century justice system. Absent a demonstrated public safety risk, criminally prosecuting New Yorkers accused of these offenses does not make us safer. Today, by committing to divert these misdemeanor cases out of Criminal Court in Manhattan, we will further eliminate unnecessary incarceration, and reduce the risks of deportation, loss of housing, and loss of employment that often accompany a criminal prosecution.
“Since 2010, my Office has worked with the NYPD and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice to end the criminal prosecution of tens of thousands of low-level cases that needlessly bog down our Criminal Court and swell our City’s jail population. In Manhattan, we are embracing the role that District Attorneys must play to achieve the closure of Rikers Island, and proving that New York can safely reduce crime and incarceration at the same time.”