Adam Shoop Presented Testimony at City Council Committee on Public Safety
Adam Shoop, Legal Director of the Civil Action Practice, presented testimony at the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety for a hearing regarding Int. 1000-2015, a local law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring the police department to report seized property data on an annual basis.
September 15, 2016
My name is Adam Shoop and I am a staff attorney in the Civil Action Practice at The Bronx Defenders. I am here today with my colleague, Kenneth Crouch, who is a legal advocate in the Civil Action Practice at our office.
We submit these comments jointly on behalf of The Bronx Defenders and thank the City Council for its attention to this important issue and for the opportunity to testify.
Our clients–mainly poor and working poor men, women and youth of color–live in communities in the Bronx that are over-policed and disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. Time and time again, we legal services practitioners encounter community members who are deprived of valuable property from mere contact with the criminal justice system.
A cornerstone of our criminal justice system is the presumption of innocence. Yet, through New York City’s property retrieval apparatus, this notion is turned on its head. In almost every arrest, regardless of whether a person is ultimately charged with or convicted of a crime, the NYPD takes some form of personal property, including cash, phones, and even cars. The NYPD can take a person’s property during the booking process and continue to hold it for a variety of reasons while the case is pending, and even after the case has concluded. The burden falls on the individual to get their essential property back. They are at the mercy of a complex, opaque series of regulation and bureaucratic obstacles, with little guidance to assist them.