Dallas County’s New D.A. Makes It Official Policy: His Office Is Letting First-Time Marijuana Possession Offenses Slide. Certain Low-Level Theft Cases, Too.
Earlier this month, we wrote an open letter praising the wisdom and patience that new Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot has already shown in his first three months in office.
After campaigning on a platform of criminal justice reform, Creuzot is proving himself more than just a list of radical campaign promises, and a man of principle who intends on carrying out those platforms now that he’s in charge.
After already displayed some of this in his handling of the Austin Shuffield and Amber Guyger cases, he doubled down on his promises this past Wednesday, issuing a policy memo outlining several massive overhauls he’s bringing to Dallas County in order to end mass incarceration and make the most of our increasingly limited police resources.
You can read the full memo and Creuzot’s detailed reasoning for each of his changes here, but let’s go over some of the highlights below.
• First-time marijuana possession cases will no longer be prosecuted. Nor will first-time possession charges for trace amounts (.01 grams) of some other drugs. On top of that, he’s in the process of dismissing all first-time marijuana cases on the books from before he took office. He’s already dismissed over 1,000 cases already.
• Criminal trespass cases that don’t involve breaking and entering (i.e. homeless people simply sleeping in public places) will not be prosecuted. Instead, he’ll recommend mental health services for these individuals.
• Theft of necessary items cases won’t be prosecuted for first-timers, either. This includes the theft of things like food, totaling less than $750 – unless violent measures were taken or it is deemed the theft was for personal profit. Similarly, Creuzot says his office will not be prosecuting things like driving with a suspended license, which is another crime that’s basically just punishing people for being poor.
• He’s also reforming the bail system. In most cases, the DA’s office will now allow accused individuals to await trial at their own homes, without posting bond. The office will only recommend bail in cases where the accused is likely to fail to appear or if it is deemed that those individuals are a threat to the community or their victim.
On top of the above, Cruezot has also laid out recommended probation lengths for different crimes that’ll shorten the time that the convicted spend under supervision in many cases.
Days into his new era of sensibility and practicality, Creuzot’s already drawn the ire of the Dallas Morning News’ editorial board as well as Governor Greg Abbott for appearing soft on crime like some type of namby pamby socialist.
But we say screw all that noise! We don’t mind; we appreciate the fresh look on criminal justice.
Considering that DPD doesn’t even have the resources to write speeding tickets anymore, we here at Central Track appreciate Cruezot’s “radical” new common sense approach.