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Letters: Warrant arrest system preys on the poor

To the Editor:

This is embarrassing. A recent police blotter for Princeton informed citizens that local police, while responding to a panhandling and shoplifting call, then arrested the 64-year-old for having outstanding warrants for several hundred dollars. Is there no compassion in this town?

1. There should be a fund to reimburse our town stores for food shoplifted by anyone who is obviously hungry and unable to make ends meet. We’ll make the first challenge grant contribution.

2. Our town’s police should not be directed to arrest people with non-local warrants for what obviously must be some who knows what minor offenses. Law enforcement agents should focus on the well-being of our town and not spend time collecting trifling amounts of some other city’s budget from those who struggle to put food on the table.

Adding arrests onto warrants that were already overly burdensome just exacerbates what was not a pretty situation into something desperate. Families living in poverty can’t get out from under all the crap that keeps piling on, and it seems like opportunistic profiteering to prey on those individuals who are already in such a tight spot.

That’s not what the Princeton community should be about.

Elizabeth Monroe
Alain Kornhauser

Please share your thoughts on this story.

7 comments
  • Newsflash: anyone stealing food is obviously hungry

    Employees that steal food from employers are obviously hungry

    Are you going to find that do?

  • Stealing is wrong. We don’t need a fund to reimburse stores for “food shoplifted by anyone who is obviously hungry and unable to make ends meet”. Not only is this a bad idea it’s an impossible solution that reinforces the bad behavior of theft. Wake up that’s a bad idea.

    If you want to donate to people that need food, do that don’t encourage theft!!!!!

    We need to be compassionate and advertise where people need help can get help I.e. food banks, food stamps…these systems exist today!!! Donate to a food bank they will take your $$$.

    If people steal the law must be applied justly. If there are warrants for doing the wrong thing then what do you expect to happen? This is not a poor/rich debate or a race debate it’s a right or wrong debate.

    Your logic is simply wrong.

  • I agree. He was not arrested for pan handling. He happened to be pan handling when the warrant for his arrest on other charges was served.

  • Sounds great but just not practical. We would have to leave it to police officers to determine if the outstanding warrant is “petty” or not and they have shown us that they don’t have the best judgment. Just another way for law enforcement to discriminate.

    It would be nice in a perfect world to give someone you think needs it a “pass” but it opens up a whole can of worms.

  • First of all, I’d like to say Princeton is a very compassionate town! I do not understand why you would be embarrassed for an arrest for panhandling or an outstanding warrant, it is against the law. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it’s not a sad situation.
    #2 have you any idea how many individuals may have been helped by those arrests. i.e. turned onto agencies that are able to assist.
    #3 furthermore, I know for a fact that law enforcement in this town go above and beyond pertaining to the well-being of each individual either living or visiting!
    As Joe said, can you imagine the chaos if law enforcement didn’t do their job !?

  • Warrants aren’t for “who knows what”. They require specific grounds for an arrest and are actually the constitutional protection for individuals from arbitrary arrest without cause. This is a fundamental civil liberty. Being immune from arrest even though due process was used is not a civil liberty. Could you imagine the chaos that would ensue if warrants weren’t enforced? Even by other jurisdictions? Wouldn’t you expect a neighboring town to honor Princeton’s valid warrants?

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