N.Y. Justice Dem Appears to Support Substituting Art Class for Jail Time

'It definitely helped me avoid the anxiety of having to attend an actual court date for a mistake I made'

January 15, 2020

A New York City congressional candidate endorsed by the same progressive group that backed Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) appears to support supplanting jail time with art classes.

Democratic congressional hopeful Jamaal Bowman on Wednesday shared an article detailing a New York City program that allows arrestees to avoid prosecution by attending a two-hour art course. Brooklyn district attorney Eric Gonzalez said the program is about "holding people accountable." Any perpetrator who attends the course has their case dismissed with no criminal record registered.

Those eligible for the program include shoplifters and trespassers.

According to an artist involved in the program, the class consists of "a group discussion of the artworks and an art-making workshop."

In his tweet sharing the article, Bowman quoted one of the program's participants. The arrestee said the program "definitely helped me avoid the anxiety of having to attend an actual court date for a mistake I made."

Bowman, a former Bronx middle school principal, is running to unseat incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel (D.) from the left in New York's 16th district. Endorsed by Justice Democrats, Bowman is a proponent of the Green New Deal, the multi-trillion dollar program touted by fellow New York progressive Ocasio-Cortez.

Bowman has called "white male domestic terrorism" the "biggest issue in our country" and supports disarming New York City police officers.

The Bowman campaign did not respond to a request for comment by press time.