Friday, April 17, 2015

DPS may promote surcharge amnesty by this fall, and other stories

Here are a few items which merit Grits readers' attention even if I haven't had time to adumbrate them in individual blog posts:
  • The Dallas District Attorney has released a list of 192 officers who the DA's office won't sponsor as witnesses because of past mendacity or other credibility problems. 
  • An error by city utility employees left prison units in Amarillo without water pressure, forcing them to bring in tanker trucks for drinking water.
  • The Texas Senate this week approved a bill by Sen. John Whitmire eliminating criminal penalties for truancy.
  • The Senate Transportation Committee voted to eliminate red light cameras.
  • Bill Martin of the Baker Institute at Rice University says the political winds are shifting in Texas on medical marijuana. See also an account of Rep. David Simpson defending his legalize-it bill in his home district, and an article about GOP support for Rep. Joe Moody's bill creating civil penalties for low-level pot possession.
  • Here's a religious view on why solitary confinement reform is necessary.
  • Setting aside for a moment the vexed issue of police shootings, here's an interesting discussion of the appropriate burden police departments should bear in civil court when officers inadvertently harm someone on the job under more mundane circumstances.
  • Read a compelling and troublesome reentry story out of Dallas.
  • Singer John Legend was in town Thursday to visit with legislators and hold a press conference on criminal justice reform with my employers at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. See coverage here, here, here, and here, for example.
  • Regrettably, Grits couldn't attend the press conference with Mr. Legend, spending my afternoon instead in a meeting involving indigence and the Driver Responsibility surcharge. Nothing certain yet, but DPS told us they're now considering offering another Amnesty period for the surcharge as soon as this fall. Not long ago, they were telling the Lege they had no plans for another Amnesty, so that's welcome news.

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