Should Minor Theft be Prosecuted?

Dallas County's district attorney is facing state-wide criticism for reforms that he says will help the poorest people.

##Should Minor Theft be Prosecuted?

District Attorney John Creuzot is changing how poor people are treated by the justice system in the Dallas County District. He rejects the idea, that because his office trying to make policy choices about somebody who’s hungry and somebody who’s poor, that that’s going to be translated into the populations of these areas to go forth and commit crime.

Without trying to be reckless; he’s not trying to be without regard to the public. This is a district attorney’s office that’s taken a turn from traditional district attorney’s offices in the state of Texas and across this country. Now what we are focusing on is not processing cases, but reducing recidivism and reducing cost, and we’re doing so based on data and research. Cruezot says the system should be more lenient on trespassing and petty theft. He will not prosecute theft of less than $750 if it happens out of necessity. He’s faced state-wide criticism for the reform.

According to his office’s initiative, it’s not about lawnmowers, this is not about going off and ripping off the stores, this, that, and the other—that’s not what this is about. This is about the truly poor who are truly stealing to sustain themselves. This is not somebody who’s out trying to make a living by being a thief. Creuzot doesn’t even expect that there will be a whole lot of those cases.

“We recently had a situation and it was reported in The Dallas Morning News, and it wasn’t one that any of us would be proud of, let’s be honest, where a grandmother was arrested… for stealing two pairs of pants for her grandchildren who she couldn’t afford, and she spent x-numbers of months in jail.”

He also won’t prosecute misdemeanor possession of marijuana for first-time offenders.He's also calling for a reform of bail and probation systems, and wants to lower the number of people who are homeless and mentally ill that are arrested for trespassing.

“There’s too much back and forth about it, and it’s wrong to put a mentally ill homeless person in jail and I’m not gonna wait around for however long it takes for the Dallas County and the city, I’m ready to get going.”