San Antonio area to institute cite and release for marijuana and other misdemeanors
District Attorney Nico LaHood announced this week that Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, will institute a cite and release program in the near future for marijuana and other misdemeanor offenses.
He was joined by Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar and County Judge Nelson Wolff during the announcement.
“I can say this is huge,” Salazar said. “This will definitely change the face of how we do things in Bexar County.”
According to My San Antonio, under the new policy, offenders will be given a summons and the opportunity to attend a class, pay a fine and do community service instead of being charged with a crime and jailed. A monthly or bi-monthly court date will be designated for low-level offenders to appear before a judge. Classes will be specific to each crime and if citizens are able to complete the course, do community service and pay a fee within 90 days, a case will never be filed against them.
“Let me emphasize, this program is designed with the intention of balancing community safety, fiscal responsibility for the taxpayers and opportunities for citizens of Bexar County,” LaHood said.
Class A and Class B possession of marijuana cover up to 4 ounces.
Salazar said his jail staff was still going through records to see how many people could have been eligible for the program previously but, “It’s bound to help my jail population for sure.”
A law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2007 gives entities the power to opt-in to programs like the one detailed by LaHood. Bexar County’s program will be used for at least six months to a year, and can be tweaked if necessary, LaHood said.
Similar policy has been enacted in the Houston area, and is pending implementation in Dallas. It is projected to save the counties millions and increase the amount of time officers are on patrol rather than doing paperwork at the jail.
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