NYC to Ease Penalties for Littering, Public Urination

New York City will reduce the penalties for minor offenses like littering and public urination under a package of bills approved by the City Council.

The Council approved the Criminal Justice Reform Act on Wednesday.

The legislation will change the penalties for certain offenses such as possessing an open container of alcohol. The offenses will still be illegal but will in most cases be steered to civil rather than criminal court.

Supporters of the bills says harsh penalties for offenses like drinking in public have a disproportionate effect on young black and Latino New Yorkers.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the legislation will "prevent tens of thousands of people from getting a criminal record for low-level, non-violent offenses."

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bills into law.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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