Dallas, TX – Newly- elected Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot has announced that the prosecutors in his office is making a list of charges that they won’t prosecute.
He will also make finding alternatives to incarceration a priority, especially in cases involving minorities and the poor.
Creuzot, 61, said that it is “morally wrong” to sentence poor people who commit crimes to jail, and that his office is in the process of compiling a list of offenses that they will no longer prosecute, The Dallas Morning News reported.
All first-time marijuana possession cases involving small amounts of the drug will automatically be dismissed, he confirmed.
“Certainly, first-time marijuana offenders, and simple criminal trespass – we know that most of those people, obviously they’re poor,” Creuzot said.
“We will still prosecute the violent criminals. We will still keep our focus on keeping the community safe,” Creuzot said. “But we will also take care not to make the community worse or an individual worse just because we’ve done that in the past.”
Creuzot, a former judge who established one of Texas’ first drug courts, made his announcements at the swearing-in of his 247-member staff on Tuesday morning, KXAS reported.
“What I’m asking you to do by taking your oath here today is to join with me in another era of criminal justice reform,” he said.
Creuzot argued that prison “costs too much,” and that it “doesn’t solve crime,” The Dallas Morning News reported.
“Are we creating people with criminal records because they’re poor?” he asked the prosecutors, calling such actions “morally wrong.”
“What we have learned is that we have locked up many people who do not pose a threat to public safety,” Creuzot told KXAS.
“They might suffer from underlying circumstances and problems such as mental health or substance abuse and putting them in jail is not going to solve any of those problems,” he told the crowd during the swearing-in ceremony.
Only a “small number” of employees have left the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office in the wake of Creuzot’s election, KXAS reported.