From [HERE] The NYPD disproportionately targets minorities for arrest, according to a new report from a police reform group that tracks arraignments in the city’s criminal courts.
The Police Reform Organizing Project, or PROP, found that in the 485 criminal arraignments its volunteers observed from June to December 2018, roughly 87% involved non-white defendants. People of color make up 56 % of the city’s population. The report is [HERE PDF]
PROP director Robert Gangi said Wednesday that racial breakdown has remained consistent over the past four-and-a-half years, even as the number of arrests and types of crimes charged by police have changed. Since it started monitoring the courts, the group found that 5,067 of the 5,647 cases it observed, or 90 %, involve people of color.
“These numbers reflect the entrenched and long-standing problem of stark racial bias in NYPD tactics,” Gangi said.
The report states:
Everyday the New York Police Department’s quota-driven “broken windows” arrest practices inflict hardship and harm on the most vulnerable New Yorkers, especially low- income people of color, the homeless, and persons with mental illnesses. Everyday New York’s district attorneys aggressively prosecute cases against black and brown people for engaging in mainly innocent or innocuous activities. Everyday our city’s courts devote considerable resources to the administration of injustice, applying sanctions in hundreds, if not thousands, of cases where the charges involve, at worst, petty infractions and where the defendants are almost always people of color, some of whom live on the margins of society.
From October 26th, 2015 through March 18th, 2015, PROP recorded information on 529 cases presented in Manhattan and Brooklyn arraignments parts. Of those, PROP recorded the outcome of 498 cases.
Of the 529 cases seen, 463, or 87.5%, of defendants were people of color.
Of the 498 outcomes recorded, 479, or 96.2%, of defendants walked out of the
Of the 2 court visits that PROP was able to time, the average amount of time that the court spent on each case was approximately 2 minutes, 7.5 seconds. The longest case lasted 6 minutes, 16 seconds. The shortest case lasted 26 seconds.
In one example cited, the report states”Officers arrested a middle-aged African-American man for theft of services or farebeating. Because he had a history of misdemeanor convictions for low-level, non- predatory offenses, the judge, over the strenuous objections of the man’s lawyer, sentenced him to 12 days on Rikers Island. As a result, the man would lose his place in line for affordable housing. Before the arrest, he was about to gain access to an apartment. He would now leave jail as a homeless person.“ It further states,
Police officers in Manhattan arrested a homeless man late at night on the subway on the charge of, as the court officer read out loud, "occupying multiple seats on the subway.” The judged issued an ACD & let the man walk out of the court room. A PROP representative followed him out & tried to talk with him. Unsteady on his feet, the man said apologetically that he could barely stand up & that he was withdrawing from his alcohol habit. When asked where he was going & where would he stay, the man said that he was going to "ride the trains.”
Police officers in Manhattan arrested a 91 year-old wheelchair bound woman on an assault charge after she struck her 93 year-old husband on the head. She appeared in arraignment court still handcuffed to her wheelchair.
Police officers arrested a young man for dancing on the subway, the official charge being "unlawful solicitation.” The youth explained that the NYPD also arrested a friend that danced with him on the train -- the officers released the friend on a ACD, but held the young man that we spoke with because he had an outstanding warrant for drinking a beer in front of his building. He also related that the police have arrested him several times for subway dancing & that the judge always releases him with an ACD.
Police officers arrested a homeless woman for the second time in a week for sleeping in the machine room of an apartment building where the janitorial staff had befriended her & let her use the unoccupied room. She was an addict who was afraid to stay at a shelter & who had been trying unsuccessfully to find a rehab program that would help her. The NYPD provided her with no assistance to meet either need.
Officers arrested a middle-aged man on a petty larceny charge to which he pled guilty & after which the judge levied a $200 surcharge and a $50 fine. Upon speaking to the man, a PROP volunteer learned that he was homeless & had no ability to come up with the money to pay the penalty. He also explained that his "offense" involved a case of entrapment. Officers had placed money on a Harlem street & when he bent to pick it up, they arrested him on the petty larceny charge. When asked why he then pled guilty, he replied that he "just wanted to leave.” [MORE]
PROP said that in In 88 % of the cases it tracked, the charges were minor enough for the defendant to walk out of the courtroom after the proceeding. That was typically because they were released on their own recognizance, the district attorney’s office declined prosecution, the judge dismissed the case or they received a adjournment contemplating dismissal, the group found.
“Despite the innocuous nature of most of the charges, and the non-existent safety threat represented by most defendants, police had arrested all these individuals — cuffed and confined them, leaving most of them to sit in jail overnight,” the report released Wednesday contends.
[PROP’s volunteers visited arraignment courts in all five boroughs a total of 35 times, and noticed the most common charges people faced were misdemeanor assault, driving with a suspended license and petty larceny.
That’s a shift from previous years, when the majority of cases observed by the group involved marijuana possession, fare beating and misdemeanor assault, Gangi said.