Texas: Dallas Woman Raises Awareness About 'Cite And Release' Marijuana Law
By Steve Elliott
Texas has a law allowing law enforcement to write a ticket rather than taking someone to jail for less than two ounces of marijuana, and it's been on the books since 2007 -- but most cops statewide aren't using it.
That's where Yvette Gbalazeh, a graduate of the University of Houston, comes in. Gbalazeh spends her days educating people about the law, reports Shaun Rabb at Fox 4 News.
"Over the past week, I've spoken to 13 out of the 26 chiefs of police for all the cities in [Dallas] County," Gbalazeh said.
Balch Springs, Texas police are now trying the cite and release option.
“You make an arrest on it, then you have to process the marijuana, you have to put it into evidence or into the property room,” said Lt. Mark Maret with the Balch Springs Police Department. “Plus you go back and you have to file the paperwork, your arrest report for our police department, but then you also have to file all the paperwork to file charges though Dallas County.”
The cite and release bill was written by former state Rep. Jerry Madden of Plano back in 2007. "We passed it as a voluntary law," Madden said.
"We knew it would be voluntary and we knew it would take time and we hope it would just gain strength," Madden said. But Texas law enforcement seemed to prefer to keep arresting people for pot rather than just writing them a ticket for it.
Ron Stretcher, director of criminal justice for Dallas County, claimed cite and release isn't a good program. “Cite and release is a tool that’s been provided by the legislature that we’ve tried in Dallas County and did not find successful,” Stretcher said. “We found on those cases, 60 percent of the people did not show up for court.”
Dallas County Commissioner Dr. Theresa Daniel said the county is looking at alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenders, including small amounts of marijuana through its new Stepping Up initiative. “Are there certain activities that can happen before a person gets processed into the jail that would better serve not only the inmate, but families and taxpayers?” said Daniel.
For her part, Gbalazeh said she'd continue educating until cite and release is in full effect.