Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cite and release

I was in New York City early this week, attending a meeting at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation concerning some research in the early stages about the use of citation in lieu of arrest for misdemeanor crimes. Cite and release is the default for misdemeanors in Nebraska, declared so by the Legislature several decades ago. Apparently, however, there are many differences in this practice around the country. I had responded with some comments to a blast email from the researchers, and the next thing I knew, they asked me to come brainstorm with the group in person.

While the law in Nebraska provides exceptions when misdemeanants may be booked into jail (most commonly, the defendant has a history of failure to appear), around 85% of the Lincoln Police Department's misdemeanor arrests are handled with cite and release. Among the issues to be studied are the pros and cons of citation in lieu of arrest, its impact on failure to appear rates, and the impact of the lack of a ten-print card in most cite and release arrest situations on criminal history records. These issues have been the subject of several past posts on by blog.

I suspect we will still be calling it a ten print card decades after it has no longer been a card.

Sunday night, I stayed at a Hampton Inn on the corner of 8th Avenue and 51st Street. My room was on the second floor, and when I opened the drapes, this was right outside the window.

Ground transportation in New York was an adventure, involving the JFK AirTrain, Long Island Railroad, subway, and a little shoe leather. I took public transportation into Manhattan--something I always like to do when visiting cities with connected airports. I enjoy rubbing elbows with the locals and paying a little pocket change, rather than $65 for a taxi--even when someone else is paying the bill.  I like it even better when I can get to the airport for free! 


Anonymous said...


Is there any current tech that would allow an officer in the field to get a digital ten-print card via a smartphone or iPad like device?

Tom Casady said...


Yes, but it's not quite ready for prime time (at least in Nebraska) yet. It is, however, coming. I am wondering whether some other form of positive biometric identification, however, will replace fingerprints in the next few years.

Anonymous said...

To me there are two downsides to cite and release.

First, the offender doesn't get the instant education by going to jail. While just getting a ticket will be traumatic enough for some, it will not have mucho of an impact on others.

Second, there is no guarantee the PR won't be even more of a problem after getting cited. A trip to jail will at least keep them from bothering the victim and the officer with further shenanigans for at least a little while.

SconnyGirl said...

There is another major downside to not collecting the fingerprints, (and even if the offender goes to jail, this is not always done, but that is another issue), no fingerprint arrest = no official criminal history. This criminal history is used for licensing and gun checks. So a MISD for possession of marijuana might not require fingerprints, HHS might want to know about this incident for a daycare license. DUI may only earn you a trip to Detox, but if this person was driving your kids around, you might want that on their criminal history.
There is also another issue especially in smaller communities where it might be a non-violent felony and the person only receives an invite to come to court. They may receive probation and be a convicted FELON with NO criminal history.