Austin-based sheriff candidate advocates marijuana arrest de-prioritization
Travis County Sheriff candidate Sally Hernandez has released a plan that would call for the de-prioritization of first time marijuana offender arrests.
The plan is similar to that of the one implemented in Harris County, and Hernandez says that she drew inspiration from that program.
It would place first time offenders who have less than two ounces into a program that would not involve arrest or a record of any kind should they complete it, which involves community service, drug education classes, and a probationary period.
Currently it is a Class B misdemeanor to possess two ounces or less in Texas, and it carries a maximum of 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. This penalty exists whether a person has a gram, or 56 grams.
“I would not be the one prosecuting those cases. I would just be the one encouraging my officers not to arrest on minor possession of marijuana,” Hernandez told the Chronicle on Tuesday, adding that she would set policies for her officers to use cite-and-release practices, rather than arresting first-time violators. “I would be going to the county attorney’s office and commissioners court and lobbying for this program to be here in Travis County.”
She adds, “The resources spent on this could be spent on more violent crimes. The financial part is important. But the ultimate, to me, is just creating a law enforcement policy that makes it fair when it comes to first-time possession charges, and how people are handled, no matter what their race is.”
Hernandez has over 34 years of experience in law enforcement and currently is a constable.