Brooklyn DA will stop low-level marijuana prosecutions - myfoxcarolinas.com

Brooklyn DA will stop low-level marijuana prosecutions

Posted: Updated:

By JENNIFER PELTZ | AP

NEW YORK (AP) — Most of the thousands of people arrested for the first time on low-level marijuana possession charges in Brooklyn will likely no longer be forced to go to court for cases that are often eventually dismissed anyway.

Under a new policy announced Tuesday by District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, prosecutors will now use their discretion to dismiss upfront many class B misdemeanor pot possession claims on a case-by-case basis. The policy parts from a previous practice that Thompson said weighed on the criminal justice system in both dollar and human costs.

In 2013, about two-thirds of the more than 8,500 low-level marijuana possession cases processed by the district attorney's office were dismissed by judges at arraignment, according to statistics from his office.

"Given that these cases are ultimately — and predictably — dismissed, the burdens that they pose on the system and the individual are difficult to justify," he said. "We are pouring money into an endeavor that produces no public safety benefit."

The new policy would not apply to 16- and 17-year-olds, people with serious criminal histories and those caught smoking in public or near children, Thompson said.

The policy shift represents a follow through on a campaign pledge the new DA made last year, and it opens a new chapter in a yearslong debate over the tens of thousands of low-level marijuana possession arrests citywide each year.

While the city's four other district attorneys often agree to dismiss such pot cases, and some have backed proposals to change state law to more fully decriminalize small-time marijuana possession, they haven't explicitly laid out a policy of not prosecuting the arrests; some, indeed, have said their approach is to prosecute the laws as written.

Police had said they were discussing marijuana arrests with all five city district attorneys in an effort to take a uniform approach.

New York state partly decriminalized pot possession in 1977 but drew a dividing line: Having up to about 7/8 of an ounce is a non-criminal violation akin to a traffic ticket if it's in a purse or pocket but a misdemeanor if it's "open to public view."

Such arrests averaged about 2,100 a year in New York City from 1978 through 1995. Then they started soaring, peaking at 50,700 in 2011 before dropping amid an outcry and policy changes.

Critics feel the arrests take up more police time than they're worth in public safety, and they say the arrests are racially disproportionate and reflect questionable police tactics.

A huge majority of those arrested — 86 percent last year — are black and Hispanic, though federal statistics show similar percentages of white, black and Hispanic adults report having used marijuana within the past year or month.

Critics maintain that police sometimes illegally search people or get them to turn out their pockets to generate a "public view" marijuana arrest, often during a stop-and-frisk encounter; police have said there's no indication that happens.

Nonetheless, police were reminded in September 2011 that they couldn't induce people to bring the drug out. In a further effort to address the controversy, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in 2013 that most low-level pot arrestees would get court appearance tickets instead of being booked and waiting for arraignment.

The arrests fell to 28,600 last year. They totaled about 12,300 in the first five months of this year, down 5 percent from the same period last year, according to the latest available state Division of Criminal Justice statistics.

___

Associated Press writer Jake Pearson contributed to this report.

___

Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @jennpeltz.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

  • Brooklyn NewsBrooklyn NewsMore>>

  • Garner's family meets U.S. attorney

    Staten Island stores worried about rally

    Staten Island stores worried about rally

    Thursday, August 21 2014 11:01 PM EDT2014-08-22 03:01:16 GMT
    The Rev. Al Sharpton and family members of Eric Garner came from a meeting with U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in which they asked for a federal civil rights investigation into his apparent chokehold death. Meantime, Staten Island businesses are bracing for the huge crowds expected at Saturday's march. Sharpton said he is estimating about 3,000 to 5,000 people to rally Saturday.
    The Rev. Al Sharpton and family members of Eric Garner came from a meeting with U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in which they asked for a federal civil rights investigation into his apparent chokehold death. Meantime, Staten Island businesses are bracing for the huge crowds expected at Saturday's march. Sharpton said he is estimating about 3,000 to 5,000 people to rally Saturday.
  • Brooklyn Nets Kids Dance Team auditions

    Brooklyn Nets Kids Dance Team auditions

    Thursday, August 21 2014 10:26 PM EDT2014-08-22 02:26:39 GMT
    Out of over 500 hopefuls only a handful will join the Brooklyn Nets Kids Dance Team. The Nets held auditions this week at LIU Brooklyn. Adorable Bronx native Arielle was turned away last year but this time around she's made it through to the final round of the auditions. But even those who were on the team last year still have to try out.
    Out of over 500 hopefuls only a handful will join the Brooklyn Nets Kids Dance Team. The Nets held auditions this week at LIU Brooklyn. Adorable Bronx native Arielle was turned away last year but this time around she's made it through to the final round of the auditions. But even those who were on the team last year still have to try out.
  • Official: NYPD body cameras are 'win-win'

    Official: NYPD body cameras are 'win-win'

    Thursday, August 21 2014 9:02 PM EDT2014-08-22 01:02:35 GMT
    Public Advocate Letitia James says a 3-ounce camera, if used correctly, could be a key tool in improving community and police relations. She showed off one of the cameras she believes NYPD patrol officers need to be wearing. She said that the cameras would be a "win-win" for the public, transparency, police accountability improving police community relations, reducing civil liability.
    Public Advocate Letitia James says a 3-ounce camera, if used correctly, could be a key tool in improving community and police relations. She showed off one of the cameras she believes NYPD patrol officers need to be wearing. She said that the cameras would be a "win-win" for the public, transparency, police accountability improving police community relations, reducing civil liability.
Powered by WorldNow

WJZY FOX 46
3501 Performance Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28214
Main Number: (704) 398-0046

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices