Monday, June 15, 2009

Hays County will use expanded citation authority to relieve jail overcrowding

After the Legislature approved new authority in 2007 to give citations instead of arresting for petty misdemeanors - a move aimed at giving counties new tools to react to rising costs of jail overcrowding - only a handful of agencies initially embraced the idea. Increasingly, though, realities of jail overcrowding are trumping political concerns and even relatively conservative jurisdictions are beginning to issue citations for nonviolent B misdemeanors.

According to the Austin Statesman, the Hays County Sheriff (south of Austin) will begin using the citation authority created in 2007 as a stopgap while Sheriff Tommy Ratliff pushes a new jail: "Ratliff said his office's new program to cite and release offenders for some Class B misdemeanors such as criminal mischief is aimed at" bringing the number of prisoners down.

Dallas now uses this authority, and this year the City of Austin finally began implementing the new policy. Perhaps a few dozen other agencies around the state, big and small, are using it, too.

Law enforcement organizations in Harris, Bexar and Smith counties, by contrast, along with many others, also face serious jail overcrowding dilemmas, but local officials have refused to allow expanded use of citations to relieve the burden. As budgets get tighter, though, I suspect more agencies will follow Hays County's lead.

See prior, related Grits posts:


Anonymous said...

Still think the lege should make a law permitting county jails to charge extra to gov't agencies who refuse to cite and summons. Not that they can pass legislation at all, but that would give some back-door enforcement capability to the jails who feel the overcrowding crunch, whereas cities just get to dump the prisoners without concern for it.

Anonymous said...

About time.

Anonymous said...

Of course, that will show em'!!(sarcasm) And when they don't pay the citation and it turns into a capias warrant, what then? we can give them another citation for not paying the citation? At some point they are going to have to be locked up! This is just another liberal view that demonstrates if the criminals don't want to follow the law, we'll give in to them. What's our priority, saving money or protecting the community? The victims need more consideration!

Anonymous said...

If there was any real concern for the "victims", more would be done to prevent crime. That would go a very long way to protect society.

Many B Misdemeanors that are candidates for a citation don't have an identifiable individual "victim".

DSergi said...

I am so sick and tired of hearing anonymous folks belly ache about the alleged "victims" of crime. Why on earth does the catch and release policies for misdemeanors have anything to do with “Victims”

We have become a nation that seems to shroud itself in victimhood. Our fore fathers would be turning over in the graves if they saw how everyone cloaks themselves in the mantle of victimhood.

Sure, there are some people that are really seriously affected by a real crime, they are few and far between, the rest of the groups are nothing but a reason for more needless governmental workers and ADAs and such to cater to those that can’t get over it.