Writing at AlterNet.org, longtime New York criminal justice advocate Robert Gangi comments on the New York Police Department’s “wasteful, ineffective, unjust, illegal and starkly racially biased arrest methods.” He notes that the vast majority of arrests in New York City are for low-level offenses, such as misdemeanors like possessing a small amount of marijuana or violations like selling umbrellas or flowers on the street without a license. By any criteria, almost none of these activities could be considered dangerous or predatory. At worst, most city residents would view them as public nuisances.
Gangi writes, “Police officers and other criminal justice personnel — judges, court officers, district attorneys, public defenders and correction officers — spend hours every day, if not their whole workday, processing these cases. And these law enforcement officials are preoccupied with these seemingly insignificant cases day after day, week after week, month after month and so on.().The aggressive arrest-driven policing applied in New York City aimed at minor offenses has effectively caught up hundreds of thousands, perhaps actually millions, of individuals in the criminal justice net in recent years.” He says racial minorities are largely targeted in a clear violation of “procedural justice.”