District Attorney and longtime criminal judge, John Creuzot made an eye-opening presentation at the most recent Community Police Oversight Board Meeting. The empirical data that he presented on the disproportionate number of Blacks being jailed for small amounts of marijuana, supports the assertions that the system needs an overhaul.
The limited resources of the Dallas Police Department could be better utilized by adopting some of the common-sense strategies put forward by the chief of the District Attorney’s office. Below is a list of the stated goals for this powerful presentation.
- To support and encourage fair and equitable policing.
- To examine current and past data to understand policing practices in the City of Dallas.
- To work with public officials, elected and appointed, to bring about positive change for our community.
- To encourage open and frank dialogue to enhance trust between law enforcement and our community.
DA Creuzot further pointed to the facts as they pertain to marijuana arrest in Dallas County.
- Arresting and incarcerating people for possessing small amounts of marijuana does not reduce violent crime.
- Data from the Dallas County Criminal District Attorney’s Office (DCCDAO) shows Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are disproportionately arrested at a much higher rate for possessing small amounts of marijuana in Dallas County.
- The DCCDAO is committed to enhancing the safety of the community by prosecuting violent and repeat offenders.
- By diverting low-level offenses, we hope to reduce recidivism and save taxpayers’ money.
Although marijuana usage is virtually the same between Blacks and Whites, Blacks are arrested at a rate of 568/100K, while their White counterparts are arrested at a rate of 156/100K. Cases filed by the Dallas Police Department show the following data:
A staggering 91 percent of minorities had cases filed against them, while only 9 percent were White. These cases require a minimum of four hours in booking and further drain already taxed DPD resources.
It is noteworthy that in 22 percent of the cases DPD presented, the package weighed more than the marijuana contents. At a cost of $217 per test, the change in policy has netted over a half million dollars since 2019. Class C Misdemeanors will save money, valuable police time, and reduce the number of confrontations on the street.
The Dallas Police Department should consider a move toward ticketing non-violent offenders rather than placing them in a county jail system that fights daily to maintain the health and safety of each inmate and staff on the Lew Sterrett Justice Center.