New York City: dissent grows on cannabis enforcement —but Bratton intransigent

Posted on July 10th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

New York CityIn another sign of the new progressive tilt in New York City politics, the New York Post reports July 8 that Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson has announced that he will stop prosecuting low-level marijuana cases. Thompson's press release said his new policy is to "prevent offenders—who are disproportionately young men of color—from being saddled with a criminal record for a minor, non-violent offense." But Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said his cops will keep arresting Brooklyn's cannabis tokers anyway. "In order to be effective, our police officers must enforce the laws of the State of New York uniformly throughout all five boroughs of the City," Bratton said in his own statement. "Accordingly, the Kings County policy change will not result in any changes in the policies and procedures of the NYPD."

Under Thompson's new policy, Brooklyn prosecutors will now dismiss "class B" misdemeanor marijuana arrests if the arrested toker doesn't have a history of serious crimes. This includes people busted with up to two ounce. Kids aged 16 and 17 arrested with marijuana will be diverted to a youth court and a treatment program—and police will be directed to destroy records of their fingerprints after they complete the program.

Thompson's predecessor, Charles Hynes, processed more than 8,500 cases last year in which a class-B possession was the top charge. Over two-thirds of those cases were dismissed by judges when the defendant accepted an ACD, or "adjournment in contemplation of dismissal," Thompson said in his press release. “Given that these cases are ultimately—and predictably—dismissed, the burdens that they pose on the system and the individual are difficult to justify," the statement said. "We are pouring money into an endeavor that produces no public safety benefit."

But the depth of Bratton's intransigence was revelaed in a June 10 report on Gothamist website, citing official statistics that under the first four months of Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration, the NYPD has arrested 80 people each day for low-level marijuana possession—slightly higher than the average of 78 arrests per day in 2013, and nearly nine times what they were when Bill Bratton served his first term as police commissioner in 1994. Unsurprisingly, 86% of those arrested for pot possession from January through April 2014 were Blacks and Latinos, 29% of them teenagers—and 79% were between the ages of 16 and 34. Loren Siegel of New York's Marijuana Arrest Research Project called upon the supposeldy liberal de Blasio to intervene in the situation:  "This is a practice and a policy that's very easy to fix. All it requires is for the mayor to tell the police commissioner to stop it."

Even more embarassing for Bratton was a May 20 piece on Gothamist indiciating that the commissioner may not even know the law he makes such a big schmeal about enforcing! It quoted his recent testimony before the City Council: "The idea of decriminalizing marijuana, I think, is a major mistake and something I will never support." This prompted City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to leave in a huff. Later, she gave an impromptu press conference in the hallway, telling reporters: "Let me be clear: at the state level, since the 1970s, for small quantities, it's been decriminalized. My hope is that this is the next major policy change under the NYPD so we can curtail the number of African American and Latino youth that are being criminalized."

New York state decriminalized marijuana in 1976.

Cross-post to High Times



Misdemeanor arrests higher under De Blasio than Bloomberg

Global Ganja Report's picture

Though he hosted a "Roundtable on Police-Community Relations" July 31, Mayor de Blasio made clear earlier in the week that his administration was not backing down from the Broken Windows philosophy of policing. "I can understand why any New Yorker may say, that's not such a big offense," de Blasio said of the practice of aggressively policing minor offenses. "But a violation of the law is a violation of the law." In the first five months of his tenure the NYPD has made 97,487 misdemeanor arrests, slightly more than the first five months of Mayor Bloomberg's final year in office. (Gothamist)

Comment by Global Ganja Report on Aug 1st, 2014 at 1:00 am

DoJ: New York jail violates rights of adolescent inmates

Global Ganja Report's picture

 The US Department of Justice (DoJ) released a report Aug. 4 finding that the New York City Department of Correction has routinely violated the constitutional rights of male teenagers at the Rikers Island jail complex. The report was released after a multi-year investigation pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) was completed, which found that correctional officers relied on physical forms of punishment. No legal action has commenced as a result of the report, however, US attorney for New York's Southern District Preet Bharara and Attorney General Eric Holder released a joint statement about the detention center, stating:

"It is a place where brute force is the first impulse rather than the last resort; where verbal insults are repaid with physical injuries; where beatings are routine while accountability is rare; and where a culture of violence endures even while a code of silence prevails."

The report advises the city to implement changes for improvement, such as increasing the use of surveillance cameras, revising the use-of-force policy and creating a policy for staff to report suspicious officer behavior. (Jurist)

Comment by Global Ganja Report on Aug 5th, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Bratton mouths off again

Bill Weinberg's picture During a recent appearance on AM 970’s "Cat's Round Table," Bratton told host John Catsimatidis that marijuana is the reason there has been a surge in violent crime across the five boroughs. “Here in New York,” Bratton explained, “most of the violence we see is involving marijuana, and I have to scratch my head as we are seeing many states wanting to legalize marijuana, and more liberalization of policies.” (HT) Do we really have to explain to this guy that the violence around marijuana is a direct result of its illegality, and that legalizing is the only way to undercut the violence? Is he really that dense, or is he just hoping we are?
Comment by Bill Weinberg on May 23rd, 2016 at 11:20 pm

Who's new

  • Baba Israel
  • Karr Young
  • John Veit
  • YosephLeib
  • Peter Gorman