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People Can Now Pee And Litter In New York City With Few Repercussions

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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A New York City law signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio Monday will limit the punishment for lower-level offenses, like littering, public urination and public drinking.

The Criminal Justice Reform Act is a package of eight bills and includes alterations in administrative procedure. The legislation gives the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings the discretion to provide offenders the option of receiving a fine or completing a certain amount of community service as penalty.

“No one should be put through the criminal justice system for committing a nonviolent, low-level, quality-of-life offense,” New York City Councilman Rory Lancman, who heads the Committee on Courts and Legal Service, said in a press release. “We can keep our city safe and clean, and keep our criminal justice system focused on fighting real crime.”

The new legislation will reroute roughly 100,000 cases and keep them from entering the already crowded New York City criminal justice system, according to estimates by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The bundled legislation is rather extensive as it will also reduce penalties for noise violations and “breaking Department of Parks and Recreation rules.” Additionally, the second bill mandates that the New York Police Department publicly publish reports on who was given tickets based on demographics, such as gender, race, age, and area of residence.

“This legislation will help us play a crucial role in building a fairer criminal-justice system for all New Yorkers. It will help us drive down crime,” de Blasio argued.

Councilman Steve Matteo, a Republican from Staten Island, is worried this will exhibit an acceptance of bad habits. “We don’t want want people to think it’s okay to urinate in public.”

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton was supportive of the legislation, but was sure to add that his officers “retain the right in every instance to make an arrest, if appropriate.”

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