Author Topic: Harris County can’t prosecute our way to criminal justice reform [Opinion]  (Read 205 times)

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Offline Elderberry

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Houston Chronicle by Natalia Cornelio Feb. 13, 2019

If the history of Harris County shows us anything, it is that we cannot prosecute our way to true criminal justice reform. Our status quo has led to an incarceration rate higher than the national rate, which is already the highest in the world.

So, consider it good news that Commissioners Court on Tuesday rejected Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s request for a $20 million budget increase to hire an additional 101 prosecutors. They also approved a comprehensive review of our criminal justice budget to determine where resources might be better diverted toward mental health care, medical care and other resources that address the underlying causes of our overcrowded criminal courtrooms and county jail.

This was absolutely the right move for a community that’s serious about smart criminal justice reform.

Unfortunately, the district attorney’s budget request put at risk the very essence of this criminal justice reform. Here’s why: In 2018 alone, the District Attorney’s Office filed 55,337 misdemeanor cases — an astoundingly high number. The Harris County jail is bursting at the seams and cannot manage its population. The county jail failed its last inspection and a woman tragically committed suicide within its walls last month. Conditions are so egregious that state Sen. John Whitmire, a Democrat, has threatened to have the state of Texas intervene. Yet the district attorney continues to prosecute people for low-level misdemeanor crimes, including crimes of poverty like criminal trespass or driving with a license that is suspended because of an inability to pay for the license.

He who makes an attempt to enslave me, thereby puts himself into a state of war with me.

Offline Sanguine

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If you ever go to Houston, oh you better walk right,
And you better not squallow and you better not fight;
Sheriff Rocko will arrest you, Eddie Boone will take you down.
You can bet your bottom dollar, you’re penitentiary bound.
Cui bono?

Walk in Wisdom
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.

Offline Bigun

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Harris County, Texas was a mess prior to the most recent elections and after it's a total catastrophe!

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