By Gina Martinez
City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest), who serves as the chairman of the Committee on Courts & Legal Services, was behind two of the year’s biggest pieces of legislation. The councilman pushed to make revenge porn a crime and require the NYPD to report the demographics behind who is stopped for fare evasion crimes.
In November the City Council voted unanimously to pass a bill that criminalizes the use of revenge porn, which lawmakers defined as a 21st century form of sexual assault used to embarrass or humiliate victims.
The legislation, inspired by a state bill sponsored by Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), makes it a misdemeanor offense in New York City to disclose, or threaten to disclose, intimate images of another person without consent and with the intent to cause harm.
If convicted, perpetrators can face up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.
New York is the 39th state, plus the District of Columbia, to currently have laws specifically targeted at combatting this practice. Neither New York state nor New York City had laws on the books to protect New Yorkers or hold perpetrators accountable before the bill was passed.
In December Lancman’s fare evasion bill passed unanimously in the Council.
The legislation will now require the NYPD to report the number of arrests and summonses issued for subway fare evasion on a quarterly basis and break down the data into three categories: the subway station where the enforcement action took place; transit bureau district; and the race, sex and age group of the individual arrested or issued a TAB summons.
Lancman sponsored the bill in response to data from the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services that showed that in the first six months of 2017, the NYPD made more than 30,000 stops for jumping a turnstile.
According to the data, of those who were stopped, three-quarters were issued a civil summons for violating the MTA rules against fare evasion, but during the same period 8,625 individuals were arrested for “theft of services,” a misdemeanor offense under state penal law.
Nearly 90 percent of those arrested for theft of services in 2017 were either black or Latino and Lancman said the data confirmed that the city’s prosecution of fare evasion as a crime disproportionately affects immigrants and people of color.
This new legislation is intended to fill in the gaps in the current system for reporting fare evasion arrest and summons data.
Earlier this year, the NYPD refused to release data on where fare evasion arrests took place and the race of the individuals who were arrested despite repeated requests made by MTA board member David Jones.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart