Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Policy solutions for Denton County's understaffed jail

The Denton County Jail is suffering an "extreme staffing shortage," reported the Record Chronicle, although their 13 percent vacancy rate is far lower than at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Even so, it's worth reiterating the quickest, easiest ways for Denton County to reduce its jail population to levels they can safely staff:

Reduce arrests for Class C misdemeanors by the Sheriff, Denton PD, and other local law-enforcement agencies by implementing policies similar to Austin PD's "Freedom City" initiative.

Use discretion to stop arresting/charging people for low-level marijuana possession until the state either changes the hemp law or crime labs are able to distinguish legal from illegal THC levels in pot.

The District Attorney could use his discretion to dismiss Class B driving-with-invalid license cases, which mostly stem from about-to-go-away Driver Responsibility surcharges. (These have become increasingly common.) Arresting people for what amounts to a poverty crime - essentially an administrative violation, at that - contributes nothing to public safety.

These are all categories of misdemeanor defendants who would likely plead out to time served, anyway. Why not change policies on the front end to keep them out of jail and avoid having to hire guards to manage them?

Denton County may not be the first jurisdiction that leaps to mind when it comes to criminal-justice reform, but Necessity is the Mother of Invention. If they don't want to pay jailers competitive salaries compared to median local incomes, the other option is to jail fewer people. Reducing incarceration among these discrete, nonviolent categories would be a smart place to start.


Steven Michael Seys said...

Ever notice how politicians have taken the idea of frugality to the extreme? They want to pay less, do more, and wonder why no one will do business with them. No wonder so many fiscal conservatives didn't want the economy to boom.

BarkGrowlBite said...

A much better way to solve the jail staffing problem is for people to obey all laws.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they could start with obeying Texas Administrative code Title 37 part 9 chapter 275, or do they not teach "lead from the front" where you live?

LoganZ said...

What would they say about CBD oil possession?

LoganZ said...

I've been smoking marijuana for years, but it was not OK for me cause I hate that smells, you know. By the way, I've recently tried CBD stuff, and what I liked the most is CBD vape pens. (these over here: But I really wonder about wouldn't there be a habituation after a long-term use of them? What do you think? Has anybody tried it?

Anonymous said...

Obey all laws? Lots of people are arrested without breaking a law.