In a handful of places in Texas — Austin and Midland and San Marcos, for example — getting caught carrying a small amount of marijuana will get you a ticket and a court date but, barring more serious infractions, won’t involve handcuffs.
Dallas has a different approach, even though they could easily take the high road.
“We take you to jail,” Chief David Brown told our sister paper, The Dallas Observer, in a recent interview.
The city doesn’t have to do that. Under a 2007 law, cities and counties in Texas can opt out of jailing suspects for marijuana possession and a few other Class A and B misdemeanors, like graffiti and driving without a license, by implementing a “cite and release” program, as Travis, Midland and a handful of other counties have done.
Criminal justice-reform types like Texans Smart on Crime’s Joe Ptak say the program helped open up jail space and lower costs. Just as important, it frees police resources since officers are no longer forced to spend hours transporting and booking low-level drug offenders into jail.
Brown, though, told the Observer he doesn’t intend to change Dallas PD’s approach to drug enforcement unless and until the Legislature makes him. “We believe strongly” that enforcing marijuana-possession laws through arrest is the best approach, he said.
Read the rest over at Unfair Park.