Prosecutors May Purge Some of New York City’s Low-Level Warrants Dating Back Decades

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New York City’s five district attorneys are mulling a plan to purge potentially thousands of low-level warrants dating back decades, reports the New York Times. Most are tied to unpaid fines for so-called quality-of-life crimes such as loitering or riding a bike on a sidewalk, a consequence of “broken windows” policing that tends to disproportionately affect low-income, minority communities.

The details and the scope of the plan are still being worked out, but district attorneys have at least agreed to get rid of warrants that date back at least 20 years ago and older, which comes out to about 200,000 warrants, according to court figures obtained by the Times. The top prosecutors in the Bronx and Brooklyn, however, want to move that figure up to at least 10 years or older, which would account for about 800,000 warrants and include a chunk of the Bloomberg administration and beyond.

But right now, that 20-year period seems to be the starting point, and a standard that’s workable with City Hall and the NYPD. “There is consensus among all the parties that a 20-year period works and I think it’s important we achieve consensus if we can,” Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. told the Times. “That doesn’t foreclose the possibility that consensus doesn’t down the road go to 10 or that we don’t independently consider going down to 10.”

D.A.s May Purge Some Low-Level Warrants Dating Back Decades