From the Daily News:
There are now more than 1 million open bench warrants against loiterers, boozers and other petty scofflaws in New York, court records show. And while it’s unclear how many offenders are deceased or carry multiple offenses, the number of outlaws here nearly matches the population of Dallas.
Many may never get pinched for a forgotten or ignored pink slip. But a legal nightmare looms uncomfortably close for countless others.
There were 299,555 open bench warrants in Manhattan alone and another 245,000 in the Bronx at the beginning of May 2012, the latest available tally shows. Brooklyn and Queens had 237,000 and 218,000 respectively, while a mere 30,500 warrants hover above the heads of petty criminals on Staten Island.
The idea of locking so many people up is preposterous to some.
“All of this is a tremendous amount of city resources being spent chasing people for conduct that a reasonable person would hardly view as criminal,” said Stephen Banks, the chief attorney for the Legal Aid Society. “It would make more sense to review the outstanding warrants and clear them - particularly when the underlying alleged conduct is hardly a threat to public safety.”
The NYPD disagrees.
“The Warrant Division pursues individuals wanted for crimes and will arrest a person wanted on a bench warrant during the course of an investigation,” a department spokeswoman said.
“Clearly, we see the police department doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” said Bookstaver. “They’re following up on warrants and having people get their day in court. It’s a civics lesson. A good civics lesson.”