Dallas DA Gives Needed Details on Reform Plans, But We Still Worry About Impact on Overall Crime

It was good to see Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot in the Dallas City Council chambers on Monday providing specifics on the sweeping policy changes on how his office will handle low-level crimes.These kinds of significant reforms that affect public safety required a smarter rollout than Creuzot’s office had put forth. Lacking more information and context, the backlash from law enforcement and state leaders was understandable and almost certain.Some of the new policies - such as creating a bail system that takes into account flight risk and ability to pay - are sorely needed. But even as we understand the deeper concern of creating a criminal justice system that is more equitable and fair for people of color and the poor, we still have concerns that some aspects of Creuzot’s new policies could be taking the county down a dangerous path.For example, Creuzot told council members that he didn’t buy into the premise that his decision to no longer prosecute theft of less than $750 unless for financial gain leads to a license to steal. He said this new policy is about truly poor people who are trying to sustain themselves with food, for example, and that the vast majority of these cases are for much less and end up in municipal courts.But it’s troubling that Creuzot couldn’t say exactly how many cases. What’s more, though he discussed many elements of his plan to local police departments, he acknowledged that he failed to discuss the theft policy ahead of time.Had he done so, he would have heard some of them voice the concerns that this newspaper has. The policy has the potential to send the wrong message about our tolerance for crime in this county, it tells petty criminals their bad acts are OK and it could compel police officers to look the other way.  Continue reading...

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