Legal Aid Society


LAS Secures Destruction of Illegal NYPD Juvenile Fingerprint Database

The Legal Aid Society condemned the New York Police Department (NYPD) for maintaining an illegal database of juvenile fingerprints for years – affecting tens of thousands of young New Yorkers, many of whom were never found guilty of a crime – which was finally confirmed destroyed by the NYPD this past week, according to The Intercept.

In response, Legal Aid also called on the New York City Council to hold an immediate oversight hearing on NYPD surveillance technologies and databanks, including the City’s gang, facial recognition, and DNA databanks, and to pass the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act — legislation that would provide New York City lawmakers and the public with a meaningful opportunity to understand and oversee decisions about the NYPD’s acquisition and use of new surveillance technologies.

“The NYPD is saying, ‘Trust us, these are law enforcement tools that we know how to use, and we are going to comply with the law, and we don’t really need anybody looking over our shoulder. This exemplifies that they’re not particularly trustworthy when it comes to arrest records,” said Christine Bella, Staff Attorney with the Juvenile Rights Practice at The Legal Aid Society.

“It is so difficult to know what information is being kept about you,” added Lisa Freeman Director of Special Litigation for the Juvenile Rights Practice. “They could deny and obfuscate, and we had no way of establishing definitively that they were or weren’t violating the law. That’s part of what’s so problematic about these databases.”