Sunday, March 20, 2016

The 37% Solution in Brazos County

The Office of Court Administration (OCA) has a useful website allowing access to various county by county court statistics. Last year I broke the Brazos county misdemeanor statistics down. This year the statistics are similar. According to the OCA, in a total of 3872 new misdemeanor cases were filed during calendar year 2015 in Brazos county. Of these filings, 800 were Possession of Marijuana, and 632 were for Driving While License Invalid. Translated, this means 37% of Brazos county court at law filings were for these 2 categories of cases. Put another way, almost 4 out of every 10 misdemeanors filed in Brazos county courts at law were for either POM or DWLI.

Statewide, the percentage is 20% for the same two criminal offenses.

Brazos County is therefore filing 17% more POM and DWLI's than the statewide average.

Geez.

The Brazos County Attorney ran unopposed this election cycle, so there is no uproar about the filing decisions the office makes. However, if a claim is made a new statutory county court is needed because of docket overload in the existing 2 county courts at law, these statistics need to be part of the discussion. Resources could be more efficiently and effectively spent to achieve the same goal. Being smarter on (illusory) crime means being smarter with resources.

Along the same lines, should the legislature decriminalizes these two category of offenses in the next few years - and there is reason to think this will happen - suddenly 40% of the Brazos county misdemeanor docket will evaporate.

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