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Since We Last Spoke: Fewer 'Get Out of Jail Free' Cards to Go Around

Updates to stories from the Pacific Standard archive.
In 1567, wealthy citizens who could afford to purchase tickets for England's first National Lottery were guaranteed indemnity from arrest for crimes (excepting murder, treason, piracy, and other felonies).

In January, the New York Post reported that New York City's police union decreased the number of Patrolmen's Benevolent Association cards issued to officers. These "get out of jail free" cards are used by officers' friends and family to skirt punishment for minor offenses. The card cutback has reportedly enraged some cops. "They are treating active members like s–t, and retired members even worse than s–t," a retired officer told the Post. "All the cops I spoke to were ... disappointed they couldn’t hand them out as Christmas gifts."

As Jack Denton wrote in our December/January 2018 issue, police often have to use their discretion during stops, evaluating someone's worthiness of a break. Their leniency is often prejudiced: Black drivers are disproportionately more likely to be pulled over, and are more likely to then be searched.

A version of this story originally appeared in the June/July 2018 issue of Pacific Standard. Subscribe now and get eight issues/year or purchase a single copy of the magazine.