Monday, February 26, 2007

Fishing for minnows

Is law enforcement spending its resources pursuing sharks or minnows in the drug war in Texas? You tell me:

Testifying this afternoon to the House Corrections Committee on behalf of drug court programs, 338th District Judge Brock Thomas of Harris County said that approximately 14,000 out of 41,000 felony indictments in Harris County in 2006 were for felony drug posssession, with about 12,000 of those cases for possession of less than a gram of a controlled substance.

Of those "less than a gram" offenders, said Judge Thomas, 60% are repeat offenders, and 17% have five or more previous drug related offenses.

Another Harris County District Judge, Michael McSpadden, has called for reducing the penalty for these less than a gram possession offenses to a Class A misdemeanor, as has the Texas Public Policy Foundation.


Papa Ray said...

If they did that in our county, that would empty out our jail by over half.

Instead, we have to send our prisoners to other counties because we don't have room for them.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Anonymous said...

Brock Thomas is the son of Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas, who's other son just plead out to probation for drug possession.

Anonymous said...


Gritsforbreakfast said...

@ papa ray: Actually that would FILL the county jails. Those are state jail prisoners McSpadden wants to change to Class A misdemeanors.

The only way it would work, nearly everyone agrees, is if they simultaneously reduce penalties for low-level pot posession (49,000 arrests per year statewide) and driving with a suspended license to a Class C ticketable offense. That would free up space for dealing with these low-level drug offenders.

@ anonymous: Great intel on Thomas! Keep it coming. He apparently runs one of the drug courts in Harris County, so for a 2+ million person county that's really keeping it in the family, isn't it? Best,