According to the Dallas Observer, the the Dallas County Commissioner’s Court tied up the necessary program funding to take the policy off the ground.
Those officials control the power power to green light money for new courts designated to handle the minor offense cases under the policy.
But, two days late, these funds remain unappropriated, leaving the program in what the Observer describes as a “bureaucratic limbo.”
Without a system in place to process citations under the new program, it can’t begin.
After passage in the spring, County Commissioner John Wiley Price expressed doubts on the program, sending a letter to the city of Dallas and the Dallas Police describing what he believed were potential problems.
As outlined in his words, he believes people living outside Dallas might be treated differently than those living within its borders. He also mentioned concerns over the cost of setting up the new courts:
“We already know that, statistically, residents of Highland Park are treated differently than Hamilton Park; those same statistics would indicate that the level of drug usage is similar in each,” Price posted to Facebook explaining his reasoning.
Flawed or not, fellow Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia thinks the program is still worth a shot:
“We need to try it…Without trying, we don’t know where the problems could be,” she said in an interview. “More importantly, for my personal perspective, less people in jail can only help.”
To address the problem of discrimination to those living outside Dallas County, Garcia and District Attorney Faith Johnson came up with the idea of personal recognizance bonds.
Under this approach, after being caught with pot, persons using a personal recognizance bond can be released from jail without posting bail. Of course, they would still be required to go through police booking.
The Dallas County Criminal Justice Advisory Board will ultimately decide whether to fund the cite and release program at its meeting on October 17, when they have a full estimate of its cost.
If given the ok, the funds will go into effect on December 1 – two months after their initially slated scheduling.
Meanwhile, Houston’s marijuana program blazes on.