If you live in a large metropolitan city with easy access to public transportation, you’re familiar with the concept of turnstile jumping.
Kids and adults alike can be seen avoiding the fare by leaping over the turnstile and quickly running onto an arriving subway train.
In a bustling city full of busy riders, it’s bound to be the case that many jumpers do so without getting caught.
But, sometimes folks do have to face the music. According to DNA Info, turnstile jumping is actually the most common criminal offense in Manhattan, New York.
Because of this, in an effort to cut down on prosecutor costs, the Manhattan District Attorney Office has decided to ease up on the consequences of turnstile jumping and other non-violent misdemeanors such as possession of small amounts of crack, cocaine and oxycodone.
Before you get all excited that you'll never have to hand over your hard-earned money for train fare again, the MTA has said that offenders will still face $100 fines.
Prior to arraignment, the offenders may be offered a chance to take counseling sessions or another diversion program said Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance’s office.
Through this new effort, there will be about 10,000 fewer criminal turnstile jumping cases annually presented in Manhattan Criminal Court. Furthermore, thousands of New Yorkers who would have otherwise had criminal records will now not have them.
"My office has worked with the NYPD and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice to end the criminal prosecution of tens of thousands of low-level cases that needlessly bog down our Criminal Court and swell our City’s jail population," Vance said.
This is just the latest in a series of moves meant to reduce incarceration numbers by decriminalizing low-level offenses such as loitering, public urination and drinking in public.
In addition to reducing arrests, this move also destigmatizes those unable to afford MetroCards.
For some, turnstile jumping isn't about being a rebel or getting an adrenaline rush. State data show that 89 percent of turnstile-jumpers are black and Latino, a percentage that coincides with the racial disparity in terms of poverty.
There have been some efforts made to subsidize MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers such as “Fair Fares” and “Swipe it Forward” programs. Hopefully, those measure combined with this decriminalization move will aid in tearing down the systematic stigmas placed on those living in poverty.