The Dallas County district attorney released a five page memo on Thursday stating that his office would no longer prosecute first-time marijuana misdemeanors. John Creuzot also announced that all in-process first-time misdemeanors that had been filed before his term in office will be thrown out, part of what he called “a step forward in ending mass incarceration in Dallas County.”
The memo addressed a variety of changes in enforcement priorities that go beyond marijuana offenders. 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.
“The criminal justice system has fallen disproportionately harshly on poor people and people of color, that’s just a fact,” Creuzot said to the Texas Observer. “The entire system is complicit in this dysfunction. We’re doing what we can within this office to address some of that.”
Shifts in policy were expected from Creuzot. He arrived to last year’s DA race promising to work on cash bail reform and shrink Dallas’ massive prison population, which sees the booking of around 67,000 people a year.
“Our current system is uncoupled from physical safety and fairness, as people sit in jail not because they pose an identifiable danger to the community, but because they cannot pay their fee to go home,” Creuzot wrote in the memo. “When low-income people are held in jail simply because they cannot afford a few hundred dollars, they lose their jobs, housing, stability, and cannot take care of their children: this makes our communities less safe.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety has released numbers stating that around 379,000 residents have been arrested in the last five years for possession of less than