Brooklyn District Attorney to end prosecutions of low-level pot arrests
Brooklyn’s district attorney’s office says it will no longer prosecute low-level marijuana offenders.
The confidential policy proposal came from District Attorney Kenneth P. Thompson and was sent to the New York Police Department.
The policy is part of a broader push on the part of Mr. Thompson, who took office this year, to look at alternatives to court for low-level offenders. His office is also participating in a task force looking into placing 16- and 17-year-olds who commit low-level, nonviolent misdemeanors, like scrawling graffiti or aggressively riding bicycles on sidewalks, into a short behavioral program, rather than the court system.
Defense advocates and community groups across the nation have been pushing the judicial system to rethink the traditional approach to handling small offenses.
The moves have created tension between Mr. Thompson and police officials. Police Commissioner, William J. Bratton has advocated for the “broken window” theory of policing, which insist that arrests for small violations help prevent larger crimes.
He’s instructed officers to go after subway peddlers and panhandlers.
According to Thompson’s memorandum, when an officer brings forth a low-level marijuana case for a defendant with 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.”
Thompson said one goal of the marijuana policy, still in draft form, is to ensure that individuals, especially young people of color do not become unfairly burdened and stigmatized due to involvement in the criminal justice system.
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