New York has been grappling with how to make the subways safer for everyone, after a seeming increase in headlines about pushings, assaults and other violent acts.
Now, New York State is talking about making it possible for judges to ban people who have been convicted of assault or unlawful sexual conduct against passengers, customers or MTA employees. This new idea is part of Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposed New York State Budget and is argued within a memo that it is necessary to implement because it promotes safety and increased ridership in the MTA system.
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If passed with the budget, it would allow judges to impose an MTA ban during the sentencing of those convicted of assault or unlawful sexual conduct against passengers, effective immediately.
“These provisions would encourage a return to ridership by reducing the likelihood of encountering dangerous individuals and deterring violent behavior in the MTA system,” the memo states.
During her presentation of the budget, Hochul said New Yorkers need high-quality service, reliability and safety.
According to the New York Post, one person in total has ever been banned from the MTA after they assaulted an MTA employee last year.
TWU Local 100 President Richard Davis told the Post that the union wants to see judges impose this ban. “It’s long overdue,” he said. “The criminal justice system needs to send a message that these unprovoked and despicable attacks on transit workers won’t be tolerated.”
It wasn’t explained in the memo nor immediately clear how banned individuals would be caught if they were found to be on the subway or a bus. How does New York enforce this?
Assemblywoman Inez Dickins told the Post that the idea is “good in principle” but hard to enforce because the MTA system is so large. “We want this legislation. We want this help, but we also want something enforceable,” Dickins said.