Over Police Opposition, Brooklyn DA Will Stop Prosecuting Small Pot Cases


After months of resistance from the New York Police Department, the Brooklyn district attorney's office announced it would immediately carry out its plan to stop prosecuting most low-level marijuana cases, reports the New York Times. The policy offers plenty of exceptions: Only those with no criminal records, or minimal ones, qualify, and the cases of people caught smoking in public spaces, especially around children, will not automatically be thrown out.

District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said the policy was started to keep nonviolent people, “and especially young people of color,” out of the criminal justice system; an open case, he said, can lead to problems with jobs, housing and school for defendants. The policy became an early criminal justice policy test for Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat who had criticized police arrest practices over marijuana in terms similar to Thompson's. In negotiating the policy, the mayor seemed to defer to his police commissioner, William Bratton, a proponent of the “broken-windows” approach to policing that holds that stopping lower-level crimes leads to stopping major crimes. The policy places the police department in a difficult position: There will be one set of enforcement rules in Brooklyn, and another in the four other boroughs.

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