Via a 5-page memo, the Dallas County district attorney, John Creuzot, has confirmed that his office would no longer prosecute first-time weed offenders. Furthermore, “taking a step forward in ending mass incarceration in Dallas County”, all in-process first-time offenders that had been filed before his term in office will be let go.
In addition, Creuzot’s office will not be prosecuting individuals with small possession charges involving other drugs, people who drove with a suspended license, or anyone caught stealing “necessary” items.
Cruzeot is of the view that the entire justice system has been quite unfair to the poor and people of color. Thus, this move aims to address some part of that issue
This shouldn’t come as a surprise for many as Creuzot had vowed to work on cash bail reform and shrink Dallas’ massive prison population before arriving at last year’s DA race. Notably, over 67,000 people are booked every year for one or more offenses in Dallas, Texas.
According to HighTimes, a few lines from the letter read, “Our current system is uncoupled from physical safety and fairness, as people are imprisoned not because they pose an identifiable danger to the community, but because they cannot afford to pay their ‘fee’ to go home. When low-income people are held in jail just because they cannot afford a few 100 dollars, they lose their jobs, housing, peace, stability, and cannot take care of their children: this, in fact, makes our communities less safe.”
As per official figures from the Texas Department of Public Safety, nearly 379,000 residents have been arrested in the past 5 years for carrying less than 2 ounces of marijuana. This, in turn, has cost the state $730 million each year in terms of detainment and prosecution, says Representative Joe Moody from El Paso.
Only 2 weeks ago, Moody made a third attempt at a cannabis decriminalization bill, seeking maximum punishment for small-time possession from 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine to be reduced to a $250 penalty.
Notably, early this month, the Department of State Health Services had made a move to take hemp off its list of controlled substances.