The warrants were issued for failure to pay a ticket for a minor infraction, subjecting individuals to arrest
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced on Wednesday that 143,532 summons warrants, issued ten or more years ago, would be dismissed. The warrants were issued for failure to pay a ticket for a minor infraction and would subject individuals to arrest, potentially causing other negative consequences.
“Today, we took an important step in showing our commitment to improved relations between law enforcement and the community, and our focus on violent crimes instead of petty offenses,” said Gonzales. “Most of the summonses dismissed today have been issued to poor, black and Latino individuals, many of whom may not even be aware that they have open warrants that could trigger an arrest for minor infractions dating back many years.”
The warrants subject to dismissal were issued for small offenses such as riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, drinking in public, disorderly conduct and being in a park after dark. While the suspension of these warrants poses no risk to public safety, the district attorney assured, the enforcement of the summons may cause a number of seriously negative consequences for the indivuals subject to them: they may struggle to secure employment or obtain public housing, be barred from applying for citizenship and undocumented immigrants may potentially face deportation.
In 2015, the late Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson kicked off the ‘Begin Again’ program as part of which warrants forgiveness events were hosted in churches to allow individuals with warrants to get rid of them in a safe environment; as a result of these events more than 2,100 summons warrant were dismissed.
“My office has been spearheading the effort to deal with the crisis of outstanding summons warrants through our ‘Begin Again’ program,” said Gonzales. “I am gratified that we were able to significantly slash the backlog today in a way that enhances public safety and promotes fairness.”
The dismissals are part of a joint effort by the district attorneys of Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens who collectively dismissed nearly 645,000 old summons warrants.
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