The San Antonio Police Department recently released a full report on their Cite and Release program, which began on July 1, 2019. According to SAPD:
This program authorizes SAPD Officers to issue citations in lieu of custodial arrest in certain Class A or B misdemeanor offenses…SAPD amended existing departmental policy and expanded officer discretion to support the enhanced cite and release opportunities.
The program signaled progress and San Antonio’s willingness to consider an alternative to arrests for simple marijuana possession. It’s saved more than 2,700 hours of officer time and we saw a 35% reduction in the number of arrests for small amounts of marijuana. This is good.
Sadly, though, most people are still being arrested: 64% of those who were detained for possession of small amounts of marijuana were still taken to jail. And each person who was cited or arrested will face the full brunt of the state law when they get to court (up to six months in jail and $2,000 in fines) . According to estimates from the Department of Public Safety, 66% of those charged will be convicted, leading to a permanent criminal record and a lifetime of collateral consequences.
Collateral consequences include automatic drivers license suspension, hindered access to education, limited employment opportunities, and even safe housing can be difficult for those convicted of marijuana possession.
This report illustrates our serious need for statewide reform to decriminalize marijuana. Meaningful changes to our state law would eliminate the threat of arrest, jail time, and (most importantly) the criminal record associated with even small amounts of marijuana.
Texas Marijuana Policy Conference | November 20-21, 2020
(Registration opens soon!)