Thursday, April 13, 2017

17-year olds' crimes more like juveniles', and other stories

Here are a few odds and end that merit Grits' readers' attention this morning.

Sparing no expense
If Harris County were as willing to spend the taxpayers' money on indigent defense and programs to divert people from jail as they are to pay $550-per-hour lawyers to fight bail reform, it's likely the civil rights litigation over the county's bail system that's going on there right now would never have been necessary. Bail reform legislation was heard in the senate last week and is scheduled to be heard in committee on the House side on Monday.

'One of the most despised programs in state government'
The Driver Responsibility Program is "one of the most despised programs in state government" but remains difficult to abolish. However, the senate seems prepared to go a lot further down that path, and with more serious intent, than the Lege has previously been willing to do. This would be easier if we weren't in the middle of a budget year flooded with red ink.

Raise-the-age proposal coincides with plummeting juvie crime
Seventeen year olds commit crimes which are more like juvenile cohorts than young adults, according to a new study released this week. And juvenile crime has been going down. Reported Brandi Grissom: "According to the study, arrests of 17-year-olds have been dropping since 2008, falling by 17 percent from 2013 to 2015. The drop-off in arrests for 16-year-olds has been even steeper, falling by 26 percent during the same period." UPDATE: Excellent news: Texas' raise-the-age legislation, HB 122 (Dutton), has been set for a House floor vote on Thursday, April 20.

Dallas approves citations instead of arrests for pot
The Dallas city council on a 10-5 vote implemented a cite-and-release policy for low-level marijuana arrests. The proposal left out small portions of north Dallas not in Dallas County, which was the cause of at least one council member's opposition. Go here to send an email to your state representative asking them to pass HB 81 punishing user-level marijuana possession with a civil penalty.

Bright side to a crime-scene investigation snafu
Shoddy work by a crime-scene investigator in Houston could put dozens of open cases in jeopardy, and maybe some closed ones. Ugh. On the bright side, a decade or two ago such revelations probably wouldn't be met with a public mea culpa and systematic notification of the defense, much less a dedicated division within the DA's office to search for wrongful convictions. Humans are flawed and problems will happen. What's slowly changing are that systems and mechanisms for responding more responsibly are beginning to take root.

Former prosecutor, alleged sexual harassment victim, died of an overdose
A former Tarrant County prosecutor who received a $375,000 settlement from the county after accusing then-DA Joe Shannon in a sexual harassment suit has died of an overdose after mixing prescription drugs, the Star-Telegram reported. What a tragic end. It took a lot of guts to stand up to her boss/the sitting DA like that.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I guess Sabrina stood up to him like Mayella Ewell stood up to Tom Robinson in To Kill A Mockinbird.

Anonymous said...

Re: juvenile crime- I wonder if the drop in crime rates has any correlation with a decrease in the number of ISD police departments or municipal policies towards some other form of intervention besides arrest.

Anonymous said...

The "Great News" about Raise the Age is that not only will there be no money coming from the state to help fund it, probation departments face a 4-5 % cut in funding. Great News!

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