Pubdate: Sat, 5 Jan 2008
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2008 The Dallas Morning News
Author: Suzanne Wills


Re: "Marijuana tickets not catching on - Law designed to free jail 
space not used by N. Texas counties as prosecutors question 
propriety," Monday news story.

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins has brought honor to his
office with his smart-on-crime approach to the job. He should extend
it to setting up a system for processing misdemeanor citations.

Consider two scenarios:

A student is caught with a small amount of marijuana. She is arrested
and taken to jail where she is subjected to the humiliation and
degradation that is unavoidable in the situation.

She cannot post bail, so she spends several days awaiting trial. She
misses school so she is dropped by her college. She misses work, so
she loses her job. She is tried and released with the stigma of being
on probation.

She is no longer a student and will have a difficult time finding

Or, the same student is issued a ticket and given a court date. She
works extra hours to earn money for the fine. She goes to court and
pays it. She is still a student and is still employed. The county is
saved the cost of a trial and has collected the fine.

Both the student and the citizens of Dallas County are far better

Suzanne Wills, Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Dallas
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