The Parks Department opens a public comment period on rules changes that would bring much of the city agency's code into compliance with criminal justice reform signed into law last year.

In June of 2016, the Mayor signed a criminal justice reform package passed by city council.

As a result, effective in July of 2016, entering enclosed park space after-hours and disobeying park signs became simple rule violations, instead of misdemeanor crimes.

In addition, on June 13 of 2017, almost any park violation will be lowered from a misdemeanor to a rule violation.  

A misdemeanor can carry a sentence of up to a year in jail and thousands of dollars in fines, where a rule violation could land you in jail for a day and cost you just hundreds of dollars in fines.

Included in the change, public urination and defecation, littering, spitting and not picking up after your dog.  Excluded though are thirty more serious offenses that include indecent exposure and animal cruelty.

The goal of the Criminal Justice Reform Act was to eliminate some of the backlog in the courts and prevent people from being saddled with a criminal record after they commit non-violent low-level offenses.

You can email the NYC Parks Department about the proposed rule changes and read about them on the Parks Department website.

A public hearing on rule changes is set for May 22 at the Chelsea Recreation Center in Manhattan.

If you want to comment at the hearing may register to speak in advance by calling Darci Frinquelli at (212) 360-1383.