Posted by: Mothers Against Teen Violence | October 3, 2012

Comments Before Dallas City Council 10/3/2012

To Mayor Rawlings and City Council:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on the subject: Misdemeanor Marijuana Arrests in the City of Dallas

In 2007 the Texas legislature passed a law allowing for ticketing rather than arresting individuals found to be in possession of small amounts of marijuana.

That same year there were 4,400 such arrests in Dallas County (Stats unavailable for City of Dallas).

When it comes to drug related offenses, we believe it’s important to make a distinction between those behaviors that we don’t like or that may offend our sensibilities, and those behaviors that actually pose a threat to public safety.

I have never used an illegal substance and we certainly don’t advocate illegal drug use.

Clearly, individuals arrested under these circumstances pose no threat to public safety, as they are typically released within hours of their arrest.

What could ending misdemeanor marijuana arrests mean for the city of Dallas?

First of all, according to the Texas DPS, in 2010 the Dallas Police Department had a clearance rate of: 66% rate for murder; 57% for rape; 18% for robbery; 7% for auto theft;  and 5% for burglary.

By making more resources available to fight these violent crimes, we can improve public safety.

Secondly, for the sake of example, If we assume:

  • 80% of the 4,400 Dallas County arrests occurred in the City of Dallas; and
  • A single arrest costs the city only $1,000 (nationally the range estimated to be $1,500 – $2,000)

Then it’s conceivable that in one year the city of Dallas could save as much as $3.5MM and $14MM in four years.

Since marijuana arrests statewide have increased by 43% from 2007 – 2010, it’s likely that the savings could be substantially higher.

Finally, we could reduce the tremendous human costs including an arrests record that last virtually forever, loss of employment, and so on.

I urge the Council to take a closer look the benefits to the City of ticketing rather than arresting individuals for small amounts of marijuana. As we see it, this is a tremendous opportunity to be SMART ON CRIME!

Thank you.

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