Democrat District Attorney Won’t Prosecute Criminals Who Steal Under $750
John Cruezot declared his plans to avoid prosecuting low level crimes
Dallas County District Attorney John Cruezot declared his plans to avoid prosecuting low-level crimes, including theft cases of items less than $750 in value.
Cruezot claims that his plan to end mass incarceration in Dallas County will allow the limited resources to be spent on more serious crimes than petty ones.
The Democrat Attorney wrote in a letter to the people of Dallas County explaining, “When I ran to become your District Attorney, I promised you that I would bring changes to our criminal justice system.
“The changes that I promised will be a step forward in ending mass incarceration in Dallas County, and will make our community safer by ensuring that our limited resources are spent where they can do the most good.”
Cruezot argued that petty criminals steal out of need and should not be prosecuted.
“Study after study shows that when we arrest, jail, and convict people for non-violent crimes committed out of necessity, we only prevent that person from gaining the stability necessary to lead a law-abiding life,” he wrote.
“Criminalizing poverty is counter-productive for our community’s health and safety. For that reason, this office will not prosecute theft of personal items less than $750 unless the evidence shows that the alleged theft was for economic gain.”
But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott argues that the move is “reckless and irresponsible.”
“That is legalizing stealing for property less than $750. What kind of message does that send, for one. But for another, listen if your district attorney wants to change the law he is in the wrong job. He needs to run for the legislature and come here to try and change the law,” Abbott said.
“His job, his oath, is to enforce the law that exists and he should prosecute anybody for stealing anything.”
Democrat Dallas County Criminal District Attorney John Creuzot announces that his office will no longer prosecute theft cases involving personal items worth less than $750 as long as the person needed whatever they stole and it wasn't for economic gainhttps://t.co/iwzwfi4pFO— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) April 20, 2019
Cruezot contended in a letter that African-Americans where being unfairly impacted by prosecutions for marijuana offenses.
“Although African-Americans and people of other races use marijuana at similar rates, in Dallas County, African-Americans are three times more likely to be prosecuted for misdemeanor marijuana possession than are people of other races,” Cruezot wrote.
“After arrest, African-Americans are assessed money bond at a higher rate for marijuana possession and are assessed higher bond amounts than other races. African-Americans are more likely to be convicted of marijuana possession once charged and are more likely to serve a jail sentence.”
He added that he has already dismissed 1,000 misdemeanor marijuana cases since he took office.
Cruezot added he does not intend to prosecute trespassing cases, noting that most examples are by mentally ill or homeless people.
“I have instructed my intake prosecutors to dismiss all misdemeanor criminal trespass cases that do not involve a residence or physical intrusion into the property,” he wrote in the letter.
“All pending criminal trespass cases meeting these guidelines will be dismissed, and, where appropriate, will be referred for outpatient mental health services.”
Cruezot’s office is also making changes to the bail system.
“I am proposing an approach that makes public safety, not wealth, the determining factor in bail decisions,” he wrote.
He is also giving his prosecutors freedom to recommend bail be required for high-risk defendants or those who are making threats against the victim.
But Dallas police Sgt. Sheldon Smith, the president of the National Black Police Association, said that changes could lead to more crime.
“It opens the door for some people to think they can commit crimes,” Smith said.
KTVT reported that Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown vowed she would enforce the laws as mandated by state legislation.
The Texas Organizing Project PAC supported Cruezot’s election last fall.
“We are part of a national social justice movement that is rooted in realizing racial and economic justice for communities of color, in part by reimagining our criminal justice system.
"We believe that Dallas County deserves a district attorney that shares our counties’ values of building solidarity across difference and an insatiable commitment to the pursuit of justice,” Brianna Brown, Texas Organizing Project deputy director, said.