CONTACT: Jeff Maclin
(212) 614-5538 (office)
(609) 558-4951 (cell)
Calls on other DA’s to follow suit
I commend Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance for directing that his office no longer prosecute fare evasion as a criminal charge. This policy change is a strong statement in favor of common sense and decency.
In a city where more than 1.8 million live at or below the federal poverty level ($24,036 for a family of four), it’s no wonder that people can’t afford to pay $2.75 each time they need to get somewhere, and it’s no wonder that more than one hundred people are stopped every month for evading the fare.
District Attorney Vance’s policy change recognizes that prosecuting fare evasion as a crime can create spiraling negative consequences for those charged – including a permanent criminal record and potential deportation – and does not make our city safer. By refocusing the office’s priorities, the District Attorney has made a compelling argument for moving away from senseless over-prosecution of “quality of life” offenses and from inflicting needless harm on our fellow New Yorkers who just can’t pay the fare. This is a most welcome change.
We should not be criminalizing poverty. Instead, we should work to make transit affordable to all, including by providing half-priced MetroCards to our fellow New Yorkers living at or below the federal poverty line. We call on the city’s four other District Attorneys to follow District Attorney Vance’s lead.
For 170 years, the Community Service Society of New York has been the leading voice on behalf of low-income New Yorkers and continues to advocate for the economic security of the working poor in the nation’s largest city. We respond to urgent, contemporary challenges with applied research, advocacy, litigation and innovative program models that help the working poor achieve a better quality of life and promote a more prosperous city.