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Transit Trespass Provision to ban sex offenders from subways makes state budget

Governor Andrew Cuomo may have called to the 2020 state budget “ambitious” Wednesday, but one provision comes off as callous to advocates who oppose it.

The Transit Trespass Provision is still being met with opposition from the Riders Alliance that is taking a dim view of the attempt to have repeat and “high risk” sex offenders from subways and buses for a period of three years if ordered by a judge.

Danny Pearlstein, the political director from the Riders Alliance, said that the provision distracts from the current COVID-19 crisis and providing efficient service for New Yorkers.

“We oppose banning people from public space and piling more difficult to enforce mandates on the cash-strapped MTA,” Pearlstein said. “Amid the crisis, the governor should be focused on getting essential workers to their jobs, not blaming riders for the problems of the transit system. One lesson of this crisis is the importance of compassion. Demonization of people for political ends is strikingly at odds with that.”

According to the provision, a prohibition against individuals entering the transit system can take place over a long-term or short-term period of time.

“The Governor will advance legislation to authorize the MTA to issue orders prohibiting individuals who commit repeat sex-related violations of the MTA code of conduct, or who are high-risk sex offenders (Level 3), from using MTA transportation services for a period of three years,” the provision reads. “Additionally, this proposal will establish a new law for transit-related sex crime where, if convicted, a prohibition order may be imposed by a judge to ensure the safety of the pubic. Under this proposal, as a condition of pre-trial release, the judge may also issue a temporary prohibition order if good cause is shown that the prohibition is necessary to maintain public safety. Individuals who violate a prohibition order could be charged with Transit Trespass, an A misdemeanor.”

In January the addition of this policy was announced for inclusion in the executive budget and was met with similar opposition, but none the less it remained in the bill which was passed April 1 by both the state senate and the assembly.

“This new measure will help better protect our millions of customers and employees who while moving around the city should never be subjected to groping, harassment or abuse,” MTA Senior Advisor Ken Lovett said. “We thank the Governor for his leadership on this important issue and the Legislature for including it in the final budget.”

Cuomo touted on Wednesday that a budget agreement had been forged among lawmakers and claimed this was an extraordinary feat considering the COVID-19 crisis bring the economy to its knees. But despite this, Cuomo and his administration imposed borrowing measures that that would bridge the gap until New Yorkers could come back out of their homes.

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