Thursday, April 11, 2019

Dallas DA dishes decarceration decisions: John Creuzot releases a much-anticipated memo

At a debate co-hosted by Just Liberty last fall, then-Dallas-DA-candidate John Creuzot promised to produce a memo three months into his term to identify changes/reforms designed to reduce mass incarceration.

Here's the memo. Check it out! Let's run through some highlights:

Marijuana: The Dallas DA will not prosecute first-time offenders unless the offense occurred in a drug-free zone, involved a deadly weapon, or there is evidence of delivery. He also said he'd decline first-time 3rd degree felony THC possession cases, with the same exceptions.

Harder drugs: Creuzot will no longer prosecute "trace" drug cases, which typically involve sending paraphernalia to a crime lab to scrape traces for a possession prosecution. In addition, his office will not file drug charges on arrestees until after a lab report has come back, an will ask judges for summons instead of warrants to get those folks back into court.

Criminal trespass: Aiming to reduce prosecution of homeless people, Creuzot will decline criminal trespass prosecutions unless they involve a residence or "physical intrusion into property."

Theft of Necessary Items: Creuzot pledged not to prosecute theft under $750 "unless evidence shows the alleged theft was for economic gain."

Driving With License Invalid: Here's one where he could have gone further. Creuzot announced a "diversion program that will result in charges being dismissed for defendants who clear their drivers licenses." Since most people with suspended drivers licenses had them suspended because of nonpayment of Driver Responsibility surcharges, and since those aren't going away (at least not just because of this announcement), most folks simply won't be able to "clear" their licenses. Instead, he should simply decline prosecution for DWLI, as he's doing for most pot cases. No one needs to be arrested for what in essence is a criminalized administrative violation.

Probation: Arguably the most important measure announced when it comes to decarceration in the state prison system is Creuzot's decision to significantly shorten probation stints, a decision with a great deal of evidence-based support. He suggested presumptive probation terms of 6 months for misdemeanors, 180 days for state jail felonies, two years for 3rd and 2nd degree felonies, and 5 years for 1st degree felonies. He also instructed prosecutors to stop revoking probationers for "technical violations" that do not threaten public safety. Regular readers will recall that about half of probationers revoked to prison in Texas have their probation terminated over technical violations.

Bail reform: Creuzot established a presumption of release for misdemeanants and state-jail-felony defendants with no criminal convictions in the last five years. If there is clear and convincing evidence the accused will fail to appear or a victim could be harmed, a risk assessment will be used "as a guide for developing appropriate conditions of release," a protocol that will also be applied to more serious offenses.

Magistration: "As soon as construction permits," Creuzot will begin assigning prosecutors to magistration hearings so prosecutors "can screen cases and decline to prosecute those cases" that fall within his new policy.


To be sure, Creuzot's reform policies are more moderate than those rolled out last year by Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner. (See his memo.) Grits would have liked to see the Dallas DA embrace some of the plea-bargain and sentencing reforms adopted in Philadelphia. But this announcement definitely ensconces Creuzot in the ranks of reform-minded prosecutors; nobody else in Texas is doing more.

MORE: Here's the Dallas News' coverage of the memo.


Gadfly said...

Yes, not quite Philly, but for Texas, wow. Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

He knows a 3rd degree felony for illicit substances(over 4 oz. of pot)is a no brainer. He doesn't need to enforce it since any illicit substance(doesn't have to be drugs)and a firearm, working or no, on the "same property" comes under the spray and pray part of the federal "crime" bill passed under the Clinton regime and that subsection written by the NRA who always finds some bone to throw to the dogs to keep such as a "bayonet lug" on an AR 15. I always wondered if anyone had ever committed a crime with an AR and a bayonet. Now, you'd be hard-pressed to find a bayonet lug on almost every manufacturers version of this gun.

Would the Feds come after someone who meets these criteria? They do every day and have made a fortune from their seizure laws. They prefer such as high priced realty such as farms.

Anonymous said...

Well we will see the impact it sounds like he is going weak on criminals and giving them the green light to continued criminal activity. Criminals are crafty and specialize in using the laws against law to get away with their criminal activity. So if a theft of $750 or below is not a big deal I would like to see how he would fell after someone steals something from him valued at $750 but can prove they did not do it for personal gain. I would like to see how he feels about drugged out homeless people sleeping on his private property. I would also like to see how he feels when a person who should not be driving and does not have a proper Driver LC wrecks his BMW 750 and gets away with it! Shorting probation terms will only put Probation Officers out of work and give them less time to make some sort of changes in the criminals. But hey he never cared for probation anyway. The issue of bail reform has merit unless a mistake is made and a person gets a easy bail and continues criminal activity and a victim or someone else gets hurt. I am for some reform but softening up on criminals is not always the right thing to do. To my knowledge criminals do what they want in Dallas and this is 100% the judges fault not the police, probation or paroles. The system is flawed in that al cases should be considered on a case by case basis and criminal history should play the largest part of the decision and sanctions. Not type of charge. A career criminal should not be let go because he stole $750 and didn't do it for his own gain,

Anonymous said...

"The issue of bail reform has merit unless a mistake is made and a person gets a easy bail and continues criminal activity and a victim or someone else gets hurt,"

How many people are you willing to leave in jail to stop your hypothetical one?

And in what city do criminals not do what they want? I thought that was the whole premise, criminals want to do things we'd rather they not do. Otherwise they aren't being criminals now are they?

So seem to think it's boolean though, that there's "Us" and "those criminals."

Kevin White said...

What's not really clear to me is what the role of the police will be. Can you clarify? Especially regarding the criminal trespassing and theft pieces.

Will officers turn a blind eye to vagrants as long as there's no "physical intrusion" (although I fail to see the distinction)? Will there be no recourse for a property owner? Or will the police still intervene and ask people to move? Will there be arrests in a "catch and release" type system?

Same thing with the looting / theft piece. Will officers be instructed not to respond at all so long as the theft didn't exceed $750 and/or was by a poor person and/or was for necessities? Or will they still respond when capable / applicable? Arrests? Temporary incarceration at all? Is there a more detailed determination of things considered "necessities?" This part seems fraught with potential for abuse and unequal application based on biases and subjectiveness, would appreciate much more clarity (sanity?).


M.D. Cohen said...

I am quite certain the decision to not prosecute criminal trespassing without "physical intrusion" has to do with criminal trespassing long being a way that business owners, retail or really any manager of a store that is open to the public, and the like, using criminal trespassing warnings, then prosecutions, as a way to clear people that are homeless or not from standing in or around businesses, asking for money, or otherwise harrasing normal patrons of whatever business they have the best luck with. It is also used to keep known,perpetual, recalcitrant even, known shoplifters or anyone else whose continued presence around a business causes a sustained loss to the business due to theft or any other, often difficult to catch/prosecute activity, one example being a person who drives organized retail theft crews around. Her presence outside of the business sitting in her car or van, on her phone or listening to the radio, would appear innocuous enough to any law enforcement officer passing by, or even called to the scene because of her presence, because there is no evidence of any wrongdoing at the present time. So, they officer gets her ID and the store manager requests and fills out a no trespassing affidavit, and if she comes back to the store premises again, usually for any reason at all, is now subject to arrest for criminal trespassing.
A very clear example of this, tjat5 most readers have probably seen, is a copy of such affidavits takes to the glass storefront of a gas station or convenient store, sometimes with a picture of the person warned. At agas stations, the reason is almost always because they are begging for money and harming business because people avoid that station when the vagrant is there.
I think it will still be used effectively this way, even without the threat of prosecution, as long as the vagrants are still arrested and taken to jail. Even if they are released in 12 to 24 hours, they will not want to take the trip, nor will they want to risk being caught with the very drugs they are begging for money to attain, which are often crack or "sherm" (PCP and embalming fluid on a cigarette). Both of those drugs even in small, (but larger than a trace), amounts are state jail felonies, and believe me, the bums are well aware of this information.
Probation and parole terms are far too long for most offenses and offenders and are exceedingly harmful to reintegration into society. Texas parole revocations for technical violations are almost a non-existent now, which is a good thing. However the BOPP current practice of sending nearly all violators to ISF for what amounts to, at minimum, 75-85 days total incarceration, is completely worthless and unconscionably harmful. Sure, they don't get sent back to prison, but they are locked up just long enough to ensure that they lose EVERYTHING, due to eviction, auto-repossession, and any credit they may have rebuilt is now screwed again.
None the programs whether probation or parole, are realistically, and in real life, rehabilitative. They are all still, at the end of the day, purely punitive, and drastically decrease public safety, in the long-run, which is already at hand. All of the lock 'em up till we find out for sure/better safe than sorry rhetoric, is complete bullshit, and the shirt term for that sentiment is long behind us. After a few times losing everything for nonsensical violations or misdemeanors, reformed felons no longer give a fuck.
THAT, all of you people who accuse Scott of being pro-criminal and weak/soft on crime, is what/who, is really dangerous.
And believe me, he will target you in your Acura, Mercedes, massive SUV with "MAGA" shit all over it, is who Mr.Nothing-left-to-lose, is going to target, not me in my 14 year old Camry.
So keep spouting the lock-em up, hard on criminals, crap, while public safety, and you are part of the public, whether believe it or not, continues to crumble like this nation's infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

Dang, who needs the legislature when prosecutors can just make up the law as they go? Who knew!

Anonymous said...

That certainly seems to be the position of the state legislature...

Anonymous said...

Truly scary how much power a prosecutor is able to weld practically void of check and balance on the use of that power. In this instance it appears benevolent but it makes one wonder to what degree other prosecutors are able to use the power in a not-so-benevolent way?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"The issue of bail reform has merit unless a mistake is made and a person gets a easy bail and continues criminal activity and a victim or someone else gets hurt,"

How many people are you willing to leave in jail to stop your hypothetical one? ANSWER: ALL OF THEM UNTIL, it has been shown that they are not a danger. Yes left follow you and allow all of them to roam free do not call the police when they are crawling in your window friend,

And in what city do criminals not do what they want? I thought that was the whole premise, criminals want to do things we'd rather they not do. Otherwise they aren't being criminals now are they? ANSWER: Obviously you are out of touch, Collin county for example prosecute to the fullest of the law while Dallas has people on probation with over 30 past charges and allowed them to use drugs and commit new charges with NO SANCTIONS, but hey guess you are ok with that as well!

So seem to think it's boolean though, that there's "Us" and "those criminals." ANSWER: yes criminals are criminals and I am not one so no its not me and them its law abiding citizens trusting the court to protect them from criminals not make it easy for them, so when someone steals your things from your home under $750, and gets away with it remember its WE not them, take the loss,