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'Criminalizing poverty': DA says he won't prosecute thefts under $750 'committed out of necessity'

We already have plenty of examples of district attorneys not doing their jobs, but Dallas County District Attorney John Ceruzot, who was elected last November, has announced a number of reforms on his watch.


His office won’t prosecute any drug possession cases involving less than .01 grams of a drug; he also said in a letter that he’ll dismiss many criminal trespass cases as well, seeing as they’re most often perpetrated by the homeless and mentally ill.

And if you swipe $749 worth of Pampers from Wal-Mart, it’s all good.

Yes, among those low-level crimes are theft cases involving personal items worth less than $750, unless evidence shows it was for economic gain. So as long as you’re not reselling what you steal, just make sure you swipe less than $750 of personal items and you’re free to go.

Seriously, this is his reasoning:

Study after study shows that when we arrest, jail, and convict people for non-violent crimes committed out of necessity, we only prevent that person from gaining the stability necessary to lead a law-abiding life. Criminalizing poverty is counter-productive for our community’s health and safety. For that reason, this office will not prosecute theft of personal items less than $750 unless the evidence shows that the alleged theft was for economic gain.


CBSDFW reports:

Andrew Arterburn, the owner of One Stop Express in Uptown said a shoplifter just stole $120 worth of laundry detergent on Thursday and he’s not happy to find out cases like this could be dismissed.

“It’s a slap on the wrist. They go to jail, get a meal, get let go. And they’re not going to be prosecuted at all for it,” said Arterburn.

The President of the National Black Police Association, Sgt. Sheldon Smith, said he worries it will lead to more crime.

“It opens the door for some people to think they can commit crimes,” Sgt. Smith said.

You think?



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