By O’S News Service April 24, 2014 The title once claimed by Terence Hallinan of San Francisco now goes to Kenneth P. Thompson, the district attorney of Brooklyn. According to a piece by Stephanie Clifford in today’s New York Times, Thompson has notified the New York Police Department that “when the police bring a low-level marijuana case, and the defendant has no criminal record or a minimal criminal record, ‘there will be a presumption that such case will be immediately dismissed’ and ‘the police will be directed to destroy the defendant’s fingerprints.'”
This is real reform, and resistance from within NYPD is expected. Mayor Bill DiBlasio supposedly brought back William J. Bratton —who had been commissioner under Rudy Giulliani— to move the department in a citizen-friendly direction. Bratton’s first comment to the media regarding Thompson’s policy memo was that NYPD would continue to make marijuana arrests, but with “a lot more discretion.”
Some relevant background provided by Clifford:
“Marijuana possession is the most common reason for arraignment in New York City: Criminal possession of marijuana in the fifth degree, which is the charge when someone is caught with small amounts of marijuana in public view, has repeatedly been the top arraignment charge in the city, according to court records.Processing such cases — there were over 8,500 of them in Brooklyn in 2013 — requires a significant amount of paperwork, staff and logistics, the document says, and more than two-thirds of the cases end up being dismissed.
“We are pouring money and effort into an endeavor that produces no public safety benefit for the community,” the memo reads…
“The Brooklyn borough president, Eric L. Adams, said he supported the proposal.
‘One of the tragedies that took place over these last few years is many of the D. A.s should have done more to red-flag many of these arrests,’ Mr. Adams said. ‘We can’t continue to tie up our court systems with these petty marijuana arrests.'”