Manhattan DA Stops Prosecuting Farebeaters

Farebeaters aka turnstile jumpers in the NYC Subway are as old as the system itself. For years, when one was caught doing this illegal act, they were served a ticket to appear in court or pay a fine. However Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance wants to stop prosecuting farebeaters as it is a waste of time & resources for what is a heavily taxed court system. Shayna Jacobs & James Fanelli of the New York Daily News has more:

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance fired off a letter to MTA chairman Joseph Lhota on Monday, defending his decision to stop going after subway farebeaters and calling their prosecution a waste of time and resources.

Vance’s dispatch came in response to a high-voltage missive Lhota sent him the same day, in which he ripped the DA for changing policy without talking with the MTA.

“I am writing to strenuously protest your unilateral decision to end the criminal prosecution of most persons who ride the MTA’s New York City transit system without paying the require fare,” Lhota wrote.

Vance stayed cool and collected in his response, citing his office’s research showing that prosecuting people for skipping the $2.75 fare didn’t make economic sense considering the city’s already taxed courts. Moreover, the courts don’t make farebeaters reimburse the $2.75 to the MTA.

“The criminal justice system should be reserved for people who endanger public safety,” Vance wrote. “It should not be perceived as a collection agency for the MTA or other government entities.”

Vance’s office officially stopped prosecuting most farebeaters on Feb. 1. However, he clarified in his letter to Lhota that he encourages cops to still stop those who jump the turnstile.

If the farebeaters have a weapon or an outstanding warrant, cops should make an arrest and the suspects will be prosecuted, Vance wrote. But if farebeaters have no weapon or warrant, then officers should just write them a civil or criminal summons, Vance wrote.

His office analyzed data on farebeating and found two-thirds of offenders had no prior convictions and judges imposed virtually no criminal sanctions on those who pleaded guilty.

Click here for the complete report.

I am not condoning those who skip out on paying the fare but Mr. Vance brings up an excellent point. I have come across many people who for whatever reason had to skip the fare (usually due to faulty MetroCard machines or turnstiles stealing their fare) & when they appeared in court, it was always dismissed without them having to pay a penny. Why waste the time & resources of an overburdened court system for what is the smallest of crimes?

xoxo Transit Blogger

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