Captain Jeffrey Schiff of the NYPD’s 76th precinct has taken up an unusual, controversial tactic in protecting and serving his community: using Twitter to publicize the names and mugshots of released convicts spotted in his neighborhood. While Schiff says the information is public and what he’s doing is perfectly legal, he’s faced criticism from human rights groups and academics, who say the shaming of convicts goes against the idea of allowing rehabilitated criminals to reenter society. Legal Aid, one such group, has threatened to sue the department over his actions.
“This marks a shift from you do your time and you’re supposed to be rehabilitated by the end of your time and be released back in the community, to something that’s more punitive,” said NYU criminal law professor Erin Murphy of the practice. “You make a mistake, and you’re marked for life.”