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Manhattan DA Says He Won't Prosecute Most Turnstile Jumpers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Subway turnstile jumping will no longer mean going to jail -- at least in Manhattan.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance has decided to slap a big 'DP' -- for 'decline to prosecute' -- on most fare evasion cases.

"My belief is that failure to pay a $3 subway fare, while it is wrong, doesn't necessarily justify arrest, prosecution, and the accumulation of a criminal record," Vance said.

The district attorney is going to make the punishment fit the crime.

"If someone, Marcia, drives down the highway at 70 mph on the West Side Highway, they're going to get a speeding ticket, they're not going to get arrested and prosecuted," he said.

Transit cops arrested nearly 18,000 people last year for turnstile jumping, including nearly 8,000 in Manhattan.

Vance said his team will DP most cases. If it's a simple fare beating case, the person skates.

"If that individual has contraband or a gun, that person's going to be arrested and we will prosecute," he said.

The NYPD said regular enforcement will continue.

Meanwhile, the DA pointed out that in the 24 hours since his policy went into effect there were 16 people arrested, and only three prosecuted.

Councilman Rory Lancman, Chair of the Council Committee on the Criminal Justice System, applauded the move.

"It is a crime, an offense of poverty. It shouldn't be, 'now you've got a criminal record, potentially going to jail," he said, "We really need to re-calibrate our criminal justice system, focus on people doing really bad things."

Subway riders have mixed feelings.

"I don't agree with that. It's a crime, it's stealing," Chris Yates said.

"I feel like there are more things that he could be prosecuting," Mario Diaz said.

So far, the DAs in the other four boroughs have not followed suit.

In addition to the arrests, the NYPD also gives out fare beating summonses -- a civil fine. The agency handed out nearly 55,000 in 2017.


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