Bill De Blasio Defends Plan to Give Accused Criminals Mets Tickets, Gift Cards to Show up to Court

Bill de Blasio
Jeenah Moon/File Photo/Reuters

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) came under fire for his plan to release inmates early, and then convince them to show up for court hearings with gifts such as Mets tickets and movie passes.

In April, the New York State Legislature passed a new law eliminating cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies across the state. The new law goes into effect January 2020 but includes a provision that allows inmates already in jail to apply to have their bail lifted.

On Monday, The New York Post reported that New York City officials plan to lift the bail on roughly 880 inmates and begin releasing them by mid- December.

The Post also reports that de Blasio plans to have the city give inmates gifts such as movie passes, Mets tickets, and gift cards as incentives to show up to their court hearings.

While the state law ends the cash bail system, it does not include giving accused criminals incentives to show up to their court hearings. That portion was added on by New York City officials.

After receiving heavy criticism for his plan, de Blasio defended the policy, saying it will streamline the criminal justice system and argued that if the incentives work, it is a “smart policy.”

“In a world where we want speedier trials, and we want the justice system to work, if small incentives are part of what actually makes it work then that’s a smart policy.”

Jason Conwall, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), denied the governor knew about the plan, “We have no knowledge of either OCA or the city’s plan regarding early releases in their local jail system.”

The policy did not go over well New York State lawmakers, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) said he would be nervous if he lived in the city, “If I was a New York City resident or business owner, I’d be fearful of being out on the streets of New York, based on how they’re treating police officers.”

Assemblyman Dan Stec (R -Queensbury), called the plan an “abuse of taxpayer money“:

“Now they want to use taxpayer dollars to get criminals to show up for their court dates after they release them early? They have gone too far. This is an abuse of taxpayer money and resources and an insult to law-abiding residents.”

And President Donald Trump blasted the policy in a tweet:

While outgoing New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill didn’t favor the policy, his successor, Dermot Shea, signaled an openness it, “I don’t know, but I’m willing to try different things.”

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