Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Citation Not Deportation!

Thank you for visiting our new blog!  We want to know what you think.

Here is why we believe Austin police should implement the citation option and stop arresting Austinites unnecessarily:

·    Keep family members away from ICE.  Even though Austin has a “safe city” ordinance to protect the health and safety of guest workers and their families, our Sheriff entered an agreement to allow U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to systematically detain immigrants who are checked in to our jail.  This has already resulted in a 400% increase in detainees, and is creating an atmosphere of fear of the police even among victims of violent crime.  If Austin police implement the citation option, thousands of people will avoid the ICE screening each year and police can begin to rebuild trust in the immigrant community.

·    Keep officers on the street. Every arrest takes at least one officer off the street for 3-4 hours.  Austin police pressure the city for more officers as they negotiate their labor contract, but why do they choose to sacrifice patrol time to book people into jail who do not need to be there?  The citation option keeps officers on the street addressing real crime.  It would be like getting lots of new officers for Austin at no extra cost to taxpayers, or the savings could be used for much-needed city infrastructure and social services.

·    Stop racial profiling.  In Austin, a person with black skin is 31 times more likely to be incarcerated than a person with white skin for the same drug crimes (both groups use illegal drugs at the same rate).  These numbers raise troubling questions about how Austin police currently exercise their discretion about whom to take to jail.  The Austin community cannot allow this racial injustice to continue without drawing a line.

·    Give Travis County taxpayers relief. While Austin police are arresting and booking people in jail who they could have issued a citation, jail overcrowding is one of our county’s biggest and most expensive problems.  If our police agencies do not preserve jail for people who commit serious crimes, taxpayers will continue to be treated like a bottomless ATM machine.

The citation option should apply to all misdemeanors where state law allows the officer to issue a citation – almost all Class C misdemeanors and certain Class A and B misdemeanors (driving without a valid license; possession of marijuana for personal use; criminal mischief, graffiti, and theft if the damage is less than $500; and Class B misdemeanor contraband in jail).  Arrest will always be an option if the suspect presents a danger to self or others.

The Travis County Sheriff, Dallas Police and many others use the citation option … Why not Austin? 

  • Call Chief Art Acevedo at 512-974-5051 and ask him to choose Citation Not Deportation!
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