In the United States, accused criminals enjoy the presumption of innocence and the State is required to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Despite this, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of people accused of a crime are, in fact, guilty of that crime. What is even more unfortunate is that in these United States a significant portion of those accused of crimes and jailed are arrested for merely possessing a personal amount of a drug the government has decided we should not be allowed to possess.
As a police officer, I never considered mere possession of any usable amount of any substance a crime. And I remain convinced after spending my entire adult life as a part of the criminal justice system (from the vantages of a peace officer, lawyer, and judge), that the War on Drugs has created more crimes and transmogrified more regular people into hardened criminals than anything in our history.
American law enforcement needs to end the Drug War and rethink the system of local regressive taxation that citation enforcement has become. Congress and State legislatures must require police agencies to refocus energies on suppressing and investigating victim crimes. And our exhausted prison systems, once free of the costs and burden of drug users turned felons, must be reformed to create safe environments wherein victimizers can safely receive treatment and education to reduce recidivism.
Many on the Left and Right support ending the fool’s errand that is the War on Drugs. But some on the Left propose “solutions” that go way too far and, in my humble opinion, put the communities they pretend to protect in grave danger. I disagree with but I am unsurprised by erstwhile socialist, commune reject, repeat Presidential contender, Captain Free and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ position that incarcerated felons should be given right to vote from their jail cells...there is no doubt the prisoners would provide significant support for liberal and progressive candidates. The elected District Attorney of Dallas County, Texas has, however, taken criminal justice “reform” to an absolute absurdity that I believe gravely endangers law abiding citizens and threatens entrepreneurship in low income areas.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot has declared he will “de-criminalize poverty” in Dallas. To achieve his goal, in an era of rampant package thefts, shoplifting, burglaries and car break-ins, sweeping across America as police officers are forced to focus way too many energies on fundraising through ticketing and asset forfeiture, he will no longer enforce what he has deemed “low level crimes.” The District Attorney who swore an oath to enforce the law will no longer allow his office to prosecute theft of personal items under $750.00 unless the theft was for “financial gain.” That absurdly amorphous standard creates a new policing paradigm wherein officers will not be able to arrest shoplifters, bike thieves, or just about anyone not stealing cash because they can articulate why they needed the item.
This is not law enforcement, this is front line asset redistribution that will hurt the City’s poorest residents in neighborhoods with the highest crime statistics. It will also greatly discourage investment in those communities. If you own a shoe store, and you catch someone stealing a new pair of $250.00 Air Jordan’s because he “needed new shoes,” the police will not be allowed to arrest. There will be no prosecution. A convenience store would almost have to be cleaned out by a shoplifter before a prosecutable offense would occur. He has also declared he will not prosecute an unnamed list of other crimes that he “believes stem from poverty.” Think vandalism and criminal trespass. Taxpaying, rent paying, home owning, business owning citizens will have no one to call to protect them from the monsters. More importantly, this proposed free for all will encourage and tacitly ratify more monstrous behavior from many who would not engage in such behavior for fear of consequence.
Shame on you John Creuzot. You are an oath-breaker. You embarrass Texas law enforcement and our shared Bar and you are endangering the lives of the most vulnerable. As a child and a young adult, losing $750.00 worth of assets would have crippled me. Every Dallas citizen and every Texan should rally behind whomever decides to challenge him in either his next party primary or the general election. That's the Truth.