New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, is offering gift cards to suspected criminals who fill out a short survey. Details of the survey, dispersed by the Center for Court Innovation and the Manhattan Criminal Court, showed that court attendants who willingly filled it out received a $15 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card. The survey asked for information about the court process and experience as a whole, including whether or not attendants came to court willingly or in custody, and how much trust they had for “the system.” Members of both the New York Police Department and the Justice Department are likening the program, which will cost approximately $800,000, to “coddling crooks.”
- Despite originally being connected with the Mayor’s Office, Mayor Bill de Blasio has firmly denied involvement with the project. Blasio did admit that the survey came from his office, but indicated that he was neither present nor informed of it at the time of creation.
- Union president, Ed Mullins, spoke out harshly against the survey. “There’s a longstanding statement that crime doesn’t pay. We’ve now proved it does. It now pays for a $15 Dunkin’ Donuts card. Maybe we can give them confiscated firearms, too. Where is this coming from? We’re all singing ‘Kumbaya’ together? Maybe it’s time we process criminals over tea and biscuits.”
- Several of the surveyed defendants were identified, including 34-year-old Keith Ware, a personal trainer with a disorderly conduct, and a man named Juan Cruz who was present to address a misdemeanor charge. Rodney Jones, who claims he was busted for carrying a cap gun, was also identified; he said the gift cards were an improvement “because some people come here and don’t have money to eat lunch.”
- Courthouse staff are also upset by the survey, saying it causes them extra work when resources are already slim. Court Officers Association president, Dennis Quirk, shared that he did not feel that staff needed any further training. “…judges don’t need any training. We all know how to do our jobs, and we already treat people with courtesy.”
- Despite the controversy over the issue, it appears the survey may have been directed at anyone attending the courthouse – including witnesses and persons testifying. One attendant worried about the survey, suggesting that anyone could walk in off of the street claim they were attending just to get the gift card.
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