Some Problems with Criminal Justice

There have been many stories of people getting arrested for the smallest offenses, like jumping a turnstile in the train station. The number of arrests is increasing for these minor offenses. This leads to the idea that police officers are arresting people whenever they feel like it. In Barry Paddock’s article in the New York Daily News, “Fare evasion arrests surge in recent years, making it among city’s top offenses leading to jail,” there are examples of multiple incidents where people are arrested and held overnight for jumping the turnstile. The number of arrests had increased by 69% in just 5 years (2008-2013). There are many reasons for them, but we can never know for sure. Any reasons are purely hypothetical, but some reasons could be racial prejudice or even trying to fulfill a certain arrest quota. Either way, it’s a problem that people are getting arrested and put in jail for such a small crime. Jumping a turnstile at most deserves a ticket or a warning, especially since it’s mostly young people who are doing it, and it’s also people who are in a rush or had problems with their metro card. “From 2008 through the first half of this year, nearly 37,500 people have gotten sentences for fare evasion that involved time behind bars, including time served, and 1,802 of those people were minors, according to state data.” (Paddock). I feel it’s an unnecessary use of power and resources on the police officer’s part. It brings up the biggest question of why they do this, and unfortunately there is no definite answer. It’s like asking why do (some) police shoot unarmed black men. Of course there are reasons like “the suspect looked suspicious” or “I thought he had a gun” but no one knows for sure. Problems like these bring a lot of issues to our criminal justice system and force us to believe that maybe the system is corrupt and that we may never find true justice.


Assignment 4-8, Criminal Justice, ,


  1. I agree your statement. “It’s important to think about the consequences of the decision to arrest somebody rather than give them a summons for something as minor as jumping a turnstile.” I think this sentence is the most important for John Eterno, a retired NYPD captain. Jumping a turnstile is not crime. There are many reasons for this activity. Police should base on the cause to decide how to deal with this activity. Actually, poverty is the main cause. However, police cannot arrest people because of people’s poverty and punish them into jail. In Barry Paddock’s article, Estrella was arrested because of him fumbling between the two cards and no ID with him. He stayed in a cell for four hours. Is it because they are police? Can the police have no reason to catch an innocent person? Should the police not apologize for their fault?

  2. While I agree with the fact that to much power has been given to the police when it comes to who they can arrest and for what reason, I did not entirely agree with the statement that the reasons beside this are not entirely known or that they are at best guesses for why this happens. The rate of incarceration in this country has risen steadily over the past decades, and we know that a majority of these arrests have been men of color. The privatization of the prisons also obviously lead to a greater rate of arrests since more people in prisons means more money for them. This seems like an obvious reason as to why arrest rates are increasing as well as the fact that there is prejudice against people of color when it comes to things like this, just like they have a prejudice against people of color, especially Blacks, when it comes to police shootings. I feel like saying we don’t know the reason behind these undermines the severity of the issue.

  3. I agree that men of color are being targeted mostly by police. I believe there a few cases in NY where police officers have stated that they try to reach a quota given to them by the chief of police. These quotas basically mean arrest people of color which turn out to be black individuals. I also believe it’s extremely unfair for people that do minor offenses to get months sometimes years in jail. If it is young individuals being stopped, then they lose out on a lot of time being in jail. The police themselves expose them to more hate and crime while being in jail changing them for the worse, at times.

  4. It’s very unfortunate that people of color, especially those who are Black, are subjected to racial discrimination by police officers. When it comes to public transit, I agree that atleast tickets or a warning should be given for fare evasion because arrests simply do not equate to the crime. It is scary to think that you can not do anything wrong but just because a police officer has suspicions about you, they can try and arrest you. In NYC people are trying to make changes against this particular issue of fare evasion, by this method called “Pay It Forward”, where riders allow others to get in for free by using their unlimited metro card. This method is 100% legal and is used because police have arrested and fined public transit riders if they even ask to be swiped into the train station. The fact that asking to utilize services is a crime expresses issues with criminal justice. Police should keep order and to do so, racial profiling must stop, and the consequences of a crime should equate to the crime.

  5. There is a case that the former rookie cop convicted in 2014 shooting death of an unarmed man in a housing project stairwell dodged prison. According to the police himself and some specialists, the police was nervous and he shoot the black in accident. The bullet was shoot on the wall and then it is rebounded to the black. That is the reason the unarmed man died. The black died and the police was issued. The court justice followed in sentencing the police to five years probation and 800 hours of community service for the death of the black. The former rookie cop is Asian, he killed the black in accident. He was sued and had to do the 800 hours community services. But the white police also killed the black sometimes, they are not sued and still doing the regular police work. Why are they not being sued while the Asian police was sued and he was guilty? It is still the racial problem related to the criminal justice of the city.

  6. I agree with what you are stating for the most part, however, I do not completely believe that police officers are “arresting people whenever they feel like it”. Like you said further in your argument, the officers likely have to fulfill a certain arrest quota and this is why they may be arresting more people for these smaller offenses: the fulfill the quota. I believe that we should dump this police arrest quota. If someone is breaking the law and endangering themselves and others, they deserve to be arrested. It is completely unjust for someone to be arrested solely for the purpose of “reaching the quota”. Like you said, jumping a turnstile should be punished with a warning or a fine at most. Going to jail for such a harmless offense simply to reach the quota gives leeway to another criminal who is committing a more violent crime and actually deserves to be put in jail.

  7. I would have to agree with the fact that keeping someone overnight in jail for jumping a turnstile is a bit over bored, but it is illegal and there does have to be a punishment for people that break the law. I do not agree with the statement, “This leads to the idea that police officers are arresting people whenever they feel like it.” I would like to think that our justice system isn’t that corrupt and just arresting people because they feel like it. I think that if you are being arrested the officer must have thought you were a threat to the people around you, they wouldn’t just arrest you for fun. There are some police officers that may not do their job correctly but I’d like to think that most of them do, and you only hear about the few that don’t, rather than the majority that protect our lives.

  8. I agree with what you are saying for the most part; however, I disagree that police officers are “arresting people whenever they feel like it.” I understand police officers have to fulfill quota and this may be why they have been arresting more people for smaller offenses and this is why the number of arrests had increased by 69% in just 5 years from 2008 to 2013. I agree that it is completely unethically for one to arrest somebody just to “reach the quota;” however, illegal activity should still be punished. Jumping a turnstile is a harmless action that does not put others’ lives in danger, but it is still illegal. I agree with your statement “jumping a turnstile at most deserves a ticket or a warning, especially since it’s mostly young people who are doing it, and it’s also people who are in a rush or had problems with their metro card.” I do not believe someone should be put in jail for doing something as minor as jumping a turnstile, but I do believe in a world full of corruption and wrong a majority of the officers who get out of bed and go to work every day have the intention of keeping the city safe.

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