It seems like something out of a crime novel in nature, a world where cops aren’t arresting enough folks so, in order to justify a bogus arrest, they go ahead and create an opportunity to lure someone into committing a crime they wouldn’t have otherwise. This may sound ludacris, but this is a situation occurring right now in New York City.
According to Reason Magazine, the NYPD has been conducting these unethical practices since 2006 under an NYPD sanctioned program called Operation Lucky Bag. “Operation Lucky Bag began in 2006,” reporter Joe Seyton states, was started “supposedly as a way for police to put away people with existing rap sheets.
Undercover officers would plant a bag, usually with money or other valuables inside, in a public place. They’d wait for someone to ‘steal’ the planted property then make an arrest.” So what does this mean in simple terms? The cops wanted to lock up prior criminals so badly, they created crimes “out of thin air.”
Operation Lucky Bag did face scrutiny during a massive lawsuit in 2013, but the case died without any sound or fury when both sides reached a settlement. Now, a new case has been filled recently by the New York County Defender Services (NYCDS) alongside the Legal Aid Society, in hopes of bringing this unjust violator of civil liberties to its grave.
The intention of capturing repeat offenders alone defeats the intention of what our prison system should be used for; instead of rehabilitating offenders so they can be released into society to go about their lives, this system simply strengthens the prison industrial complex by proactively pushing for this revolving door system that has caused our criminal justice system to become such a farce. While some previous offenders could perhaps commit another crime in the future, it is not the job of law enforcement to facilitate crimes in order to justify an arrest.
This system could be abused in order to extend to citizens without a record, thus creating a slippery slope towards a dangerous future paved with good intentions.
In the United States, we have a Bill of Rights that prevent federal courts and law enforcement from violating a citizen’s rights, but states and cities have their own sets of laws, which sometimes enable this type of action or choose to ignore it. In a free society, the role of the state should only be to provide law enforcement and court system which serves the public interest by protecting the life and property of the citizenry, not crafting fake crimes for people to commit so they can lock them up again.