Thumb Award WE COULD JUST LOSE THEM IN THE BIG THICKET

Thumbs Down to the Greater Dallas Crime Commission for coming up with about the strangest solution to the problem of overcrowded jails we’ve heard in a long time.

In a study of projected inmate loads in the county jail facilities over the next several years, the commission warned the County Commissioners Court that even the new jail facility will be severely overcrowded in a few short years. Its solution? Simple: Don’t jail as many criminals. Specifically, the commission said, certain types of “lesser” misdemeanor offenders presently jailed could be dealt with elsewise. All well and good for the first-time DWI offender, but what about a repeated assault, public lewdness, or reckless conduct perpetrator? Those crimes are misdemeanors, but they generally demand incarceration to protect the public. And that’s not to mention the precedent such a recommendation sets: How will we be solving the problem in another 10 years? Will we respond to further overcrowding by simply not jailing “lesser” felons? We’ve got a simpler solution: Put pressure on the DA’s office and the criminal judges to move their dockets faster, so that county jail inmates can be either exonerated and freed or convicted and sent to a state facility.

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