New York, NY – The city of New York plans to hand out gift cards and Mets baseball tickets to offenders as an incentive to get them to show up to their scheduled court hearings.
In addition to early jail releases and eliminating cash bail for hundreds of criminal charges, the city will begin bestowing gifts on some offenders as part of a rewards program, WCBS reported.
As many as 900 inmates are expected to walk out of jail beginning in December. The city’s so-called criminal justice reforms go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, according to WCBS.
Offenders will be released without cash bail for most misdemeanor charges and multiple felonies, including criminally negligent homicide, drug sales, aggravated assault on a child, and burglary, the New York Post reported.
Critics argued that doling out movie tickets, subway passes, and various store gift cards will reward criminal behavior, but New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the incentive program will be a success, according to WCBS.
“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,” de Blasio told WCBS on Wednesday. “It’s not something we developed. It’s something that has been worked on by experts over time and proven to work and proven to be a good investment.”
As confident as the mayor may be in the plan, many of those who have actually worked with offenders disagreed.
Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon said the program is part of a “deranged mandate,” the New York Post reported.
“We are reaching the point of the absurd when those who are accused of serious offenses are free to roam the streets or even rewarded with gifts while the rights of victims continue to be ignored,” McMahon railed.