New York City will offer a slew of free gifts, including cell phones and tickets to New York Mets games, to incentivize accused criminals to show up for their court dates beginning January 1, when the city’s new criminal justice reforms go into effect.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the $12 million incentive program will accompany New York’s bail reforms, which will eliminate cash bail for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. The bail reform program was included in a budget deal Governor Andrew Cuomo signed in the spring. Cuomo claimed he was unaware of the incentive program for freed suspects, however.
Perks will include cell phones, tickets to movies, Mets games, and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan, as well as an array of gift cards to restaurant chains and superstores, including Target, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Applebee’s.
Nearly 900 accused criminals will be released into the city when the supervised release program is implemented, the state said.
De Blasio argued that the perks program “has been worked on by experts over time and proven to work, proven to be a good investment.”
“I think people should ask a real basic question: ‘What’s going to get trials to happen on a regular basis, speedily?” de Blasio said. “What’s going to help us mete out justice the way it’s supposed to be done?”
A number of law enforcement officials criticized the plan as rewarding criminals for their behavior.
“We are reaching the point of the absurd when those who are accused of serious offenses are free to roam the streets or even rewarded with gifts while the rights of victims continue to be ignored,” Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon said, called the plan “a deranged mandate.’’
Drug dealers, house burglars, serial drunk drivers, and other lawbreakers will be immediately back on our streets to re-offend without any meaningful supervision,” agreed David Hoovler, president of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York.