“This is a law that is four decades old,” said Kate Mogulescu, a supervising attorney in the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice, adding that enforcement is “arbitrary and targeted and abusive.” Asked about its enforcement of the loitering statute, the NYPD referred the Voice to the Law Department, which is defending against the Legal Aid suit. “We are not discussing any aspect of this matter while litigation is pending,” Law Department spokesman Nick Paolucci said.
“Community and legal advocates have likened the ways police enforce laws against loitering for the purposes of prostitution to stop-and-frisk. But the consequences under the loitering law are steeper. Under stop-and-frisk, Mogulescu said, “many of the police interactions did not lead to an arrest. So although harmful, and a violation of the Constitution and the law, people weren’t being swept, necessarily, into the criminal legal system.
“But with the loitering law,” she continued, “we have arrests. And we have people who are marked then in the criminal legal system.” Overwhelmingly, those people are women of color, cisgender and transgender alike…”