, 11 tweets, 4 min read
Here is the Staten Island DA *defending* his decision to request 6 months in jail OR $5K bail for a starving homeless man who stole a sandwich. This is why ending bail for misdemeanors in NY is so critical. And this is why you shouldn’t take prosecutor’s fearmongering seriously.
1 sandwich: $2
1 arrest for stealing sandwich: $1750
1 night on Rikers: appx. $800
6 months Rikers (he’d be out in 4): $96k
Sandwiches he could afford after release: 0
Chances hed need to steal to survive again: 100%
Sense our punishment system makes: None.thecity.nyc/2019/10/new-yo…
In Jan 2020, NY will make common sense move to prohibit jailing people bc they’re poor. Charged w/ misdemeanors & nonviolent felonies. Prosecutors & police are freaking out. Not bc pretrial jailing for poverty is fair or deters “crime.” Doesnt. But bc it threatens their power.
Just read this relevant passage in Alec Karakatsanis’s forthcoming book “Usual Cruelty.” How carceral bureaucrats push “strategies” that “do little to stop the same problems they purport to care about—& often make the problems worse.” Why? To maintain the status quo at all costs.
Police & prosecutors are “not idiots,” as Karakatsanis aptly points out. They know, for example, you cant deter poverty w/ jail. They know that “Jail doesnt enhance safety. It does the opposite, & it costs a fortune,” as I said in NYT. So why oppose change?nytimes.com/2019/10/13/opi…
NY police & prosecutors want to maintain mass punishment bc it’s what they know, its comfortable, its paychecks, its “easier” politically than helping people instead of hurting them more, it gives them immense power, & to do otherwise would be to admit failure. So they fearmonger
Police want you believe that it is dangerous to provide a diversion program for impoverished people instead of jail.

“You steal from someone but because its a lowlevel crime were going to put you in an art class?” police source fumed. “It’s getting scary.”nypost.com/2019/10/02/new…
Police & prosecutors were quick to blame bail reformers & judges for the killing of 4 homeless men. Nothing about his homelessness, mental health, poverty. Or that he would have been out shortly regardless of decisions made on the misdemeanor cases he had.nytimes.com/2019/10/07/nyr…
“Mass incarceration” was built on the same fear NY police & prosecutors now using. Built on the cynical use of tragic, extreme outlier cases as weapons to justify harsher laws, longer sentences, enhanced pretrial detention, & police militarization. It’s happening right now in NY.
The unfortunate truth is tragic things will happen regardless of smart, data-driven changes to bail laws that will enhance fairness, make the public far safer overall & save a fortune for community investments that really matter. We need to give new strategies a chance to succeed
If we don’t give changes to the status quo of mass punishment a chance, if we instead listen & react to cynical scare tactics of pro-carceral bureaucrats, we are doomed as a society to 2.3 million incarcerated continuing to rise, & Black & Latinx communities continuing to suffer.
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