From Craine’s New York:
Urinating and drinking in public would no longer be treated as crimes under a package of bills New York’s City Council will consider to ease enforcement of quality-of-life offenses that lawmakers say clog the courts and have been disproportionately enforced against minorities.
The council scheduled a Jan. 25 hearing on the proposed laws, which are supported by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a majority of her 50 colleagues and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. The proposal would remove the possibility of permanent criminal records for public urination and violating park rules, mostly treating them as civil offenses, along with public drinking, littering and excessive noise.
Such low-level offenses have left the city with more than 1.2 million active warrants, according to a fact sheet distributed by the council Wednesday.According to the New York Times, one liberal official who sponsored this change noted it was designed to help minorities “reach their full potential.”
“We know that the system has been really rigged against communities of color in particular,” said Ms. Mark-Viverito, who has promoted such reforms and is the main sponsor of the bills. “So the question has always been, what can we do in this job to minimize unnecessary interaction with the criminal justice system, so that these young people can really fulfill their potential?”