NYC to ease penalties for littering, public urination

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NEW YORK — New York City will reduce the penalties for minor offenses like littering and public urination under a package of bills approved by the City Council.

The Council approved the Criminal Justice Reform Act on Wednesday.

The legislation will change the penalties for certain offenses such as possessing an open container of alcohol. The offenses will still be illegal but will in most cases be steered to civil rather than criminal court.

Supporters of the bills say harsh penalties for offenses like having an open container affect young black and Latino New Yorkers disproportionately.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the legislation will prevent tens of thousands of New Yorkers from getting a criminal record.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bills.

Both politicians are Democrats.

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