The statistics below reflect OCA data on new misdemeanor filings for the 2015 CALENDAR year (CY) for counties with comparable populations to Brazos County. I have taken, ranked by population, Texas counties beginning with number 18 (Lubbock County) through number 23 (Hays County). If you check the misdemeanor filings I used yesterday for FISCAL year 2015 the total filing numbers are higher. I do not have a ready explanation, but used numbers based on the OCA database HERE for purposes of accumulating this table.
One note on the numbers. The population totals DO use the FY population totals. I use them here because these totals are more current, and do not impact the percentages related to the filings within the counties surveyed.
The numbers below reflect for CY 2015, the total number of new misdemeanor filings in the county, of that number how many of the filings were Possession of Marijuana (both Class A and B filings), what the percentage of the total filings were then POM related, and the same number and percentage of total for DWI (first only) filings. For additional context I took statewide totals as well.
Here are the results. Comments after the jump.
Lubbock 293,974 4037 587 15% 659 11%
Webb 266,673 2241 239 11% 247 11%
Jefferson 252,235 4022 551 14% 476 12%
McLennan 243,441 4168 575 14% 544 13%
Smith 218,842 3227 471 15% 457 14%
Brazos 209,152 3878 800 21% 525 14%
Hays 185,025 3880 616 16% 573 15%
Statewide 27M 419,0001 60,875 15% 57,583 14%
Brazos County is filing Possession of Marijuana cases at a rate more than 6 percentage points higher than the statewide average, and more than 5 percentage points higher than the closest comparable county by population - Hays County. Several of these counties are demographically similar to Brazos County. Lubbock, McLennan (Waco), Hays (San Marcos) also are the homes of large university populations. This discrepancy in POM filings is more noticeable given Brazos County's DWI filings are identical to the DWI filing percentage statewide and in line with the compared counties.
Putting it another way, Lubbock County, home to Texas Tech University, has around 85,000 more in population than Brazos County, yet filed 223 fewer POM cases, while still managing to file 159 more total misdemeanor cases.
I use POM cases because of all the misdemeanor crimes currently on the books, this is the category of offense most likely to be decriminalized in the near future. Most counties have either relaxed enforcement or utilized pre-trial diversion programs that reduce their POM filings. This makes fiscal sense for the counties with these programs, while at the same time allowing arrestees with small, personal use amounts to avoid an unnecessary criminal prosecution that could effect them for years.
It would interesting to find out how more, if any, bonds for POM cases are for these counties. In Brazos County someone arrested on a Class B POM (less than 2 oz.) can expect to post a bond of $2000-$3000. I have a feeling that figure is substantially smaller in other counties, but do not have the data to back that up - yet.