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Monday, October 3, 2022
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Creuzot’s ‘Reforms’ Falter: Crime Still High

City, Crime

District Attorney John Creuzot spoke in January at a swearing-in ceremony for his prosecutors and investigators at Frank Crowley Court Building in Dallas.| Image by Dallas Morning News

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The Dallas County jail is dangerously close to capacity.

According to a presentation given by Commissioner John Wiley Price at a recent commissioners court meeting, the county jail has reached 88% capacity, with 6,371 of the 7,204 beds being filled with arrested persons.

Of the 952 beds allotted for female inmates, only 73 remain open.

“I’m just sounding the alarm,” said Price.

The commissioner’s discussion focused heavily on Dallas County’s district judges, blaming the county jail’s swelling population on court backlog. Assistant County Administrator Gordon Hikel claimed that arrested persons remain in jail because of the felony case backlog.

Hikel claims that three-quarters of people in county jail currently await trial, a plea bargain, or a case dismissal.

The Office of Court Administration (OCA) stated, “The number of active and pending felony cases has increased more this year in Dallas County than in any other county.”

“Most other urban counties saw decreases,” added the state agency, which provides resources and information on Texas’ judicial system.

Commissioner J.J. Koch has gone so far as to recommend that the commissioner’s court lower the salaries of the county’s district judges until changes are made to reduce the number of people in the county jail.

“Everything they have asked for, we have given them, and we have seen no change,” Koch said at the commissioners court meeting.

Of the 17 elected felony court judges, 13 responded in a strongly-worded letter, defending their work, which they claim is “regularly and unnecessarily demeaned and disparaged at commissioners court meetings.”

With the district judges firmly in the crosshairs of the commissioners court, lost in this discussion on the rise of crime is District Attorney John Creuzot.

As evidenced by the OCA data on felony cases increasing in Dallas while other major urban counties have seen those numbers drop, the district attorney’s performance in reducing crime has thus far gone under the radar.

Creuzot’s first campaign for office focused on Dallas’ so-called “mass incarceration” problem; he said his tenure in the district attorney’s office would put that to an end.

At a campaign event during his first run in 2018, Creuzot declared, “In the first 90 days, I’m going to give you a plan to end mass incarceration.”

The 2018 pledge tapped into the “criminal justice reform” zeitgeist of the time, where district attorney candidates across the country were running on leniency for certain crimes, upending the long-standing tradition of lead prosecutors touting their “tough on crime” bona fides.

These efforts received major support from billionaire George Soros, who funded the campaigns of district attorney candidates — including Creuzot — across the country. The New York Times reported that Soros contributed nearly $50,000 worth of polling for Creuzot as well as almost $200,000 worth of canvassing.

“We want to end mass incarceration. That’s our North Star,” said Whitney Tymas, head of Soros’ initiative to elect more district attorneys like Creuzot, in an interview with The New York Times.

Yet, three years into Creuzot’s tenure, Dallas County jail is nearing capacity. OCA data show that the number of felony cases is rising, and three-fourths of those in jail are accused or convicted of felony offenses.

The Dallas Express reached out to Creuzot’s office for comment on the disparity between his vision for his tenure and the reality as it now stands. We also inquired as to whether he agrees with the commissioners court that the district judges are to blame for the current capacity crisis facing the county jail.

Claire Crouch, media & community relations manager for Creuzot’s office, replied to our inquiry by reasserting that the rate of violent crime in Dallas is down and is a “nationally known statistic,” citing many news articles touting that claim.

Regarding the current court backlog, Crouch wrote, “When DA Creuzot took office, there was a backlog of 10,000 cases awaiting processing. Under his administration that was reduced to 900 – then Covid-19 hit. Like every other industry, our office suffered from the Covid-19 pandemic. Courts were shut down, we had no trials, the ability of police to file cases was impaired because many of them were ill, and seating a grand jury became more complicated as everything was put on pause any time someone fell ill. However, this is something we are working on, tirelessly, every day.”

Crouch also clarified that Creuzot has no position on the current conflict between the county commissioners and the district judges on whether the judges are to blame for the current jail capacity crisis.

With felony crime on the rise in Dallas, Soros and Creuzot’s vision of empty jails and less crime is trending in the wrong direction. With the November election around the corner, voters will have the final say on whether Creuzot has fulfilled his pledge.

Note: This article was updated on September 16, 2022, at 9:57 a.m. to include comments from Creuzot’s office.

We welcome and appreciate comments on The Dallas Express as part of a healthy dialogue. We do ask that you be kind. Kind to each other and to everyone else in your comments. For more information, please refer to our Complete Comment Moderation Policy.

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Mickey
Mickey
16 days ago

It is too bad that the GOP does not have a chance to throw him out. The democrat voters have only themselves to blame. This is why I now live in Tbilisi Georgia (the country).

Vanessa
Vanessa
16 days ago

So what is the “End Game” here?
Is it for the DA’s and judges to mete out punishment for the offenders or just to empty out the jails bc of capacity issues? I’m not sure if lowering the pay of judges will do any good. What has happened to the world when people are appointed to do a job for the people of a city who pay their taxes for that to happen or ask them for their resignation, in the meanwhile due diligence should be done to appoint people who really want to do the job they have been assigned to do or appointed to do, the next step will be like all the other soros appointed personnel have done, empty out the jails bc that the easiest solution to the prob, to turn evil out on tax paying citizens. Don’t allow these people to Hoodwink us and take away our security, if u can’t do the job move on.
U are being paid by the taxes of the citizenry, not a PAC run by a billionaire and his ilk. Fix it Now! The way we need it.

Doug Nelle
Doug Nelle
16 days ago

Why are we not looking at this from the beginning of the process, the criminal and the crime they commit, to gain a reduction there through tougher consequences and better policing. This approach focuses at the end of the process, letting criminals go without consequences. If you do the crime, you must do the time. We need more judges that will do their job, not fewer. Maybe we need a bigger jail.

Bernard Flom
Bernard Flom
Reply to  Doug Nelle
16 days ago

Since felony incarcerations have decreased in other counties, judges and hearings should be statewide and NOT LIMITED TO COUNTY. Either judges from other counties can travel to Dallas OR prisoners can be tried in other counties to expedite felony incarcerations and clear the prison population.

ed lopez
ed lopez
Reply to  Doug Nelle
16 days ago

The problem starts with the state prison system, they force the counties to house prisoners which should be in state prisons.

Earl Smith
Earl Smith
16 days ago

Moronic. More than 34 years in law enforcement coupled with decades as a court qualified “expert” in crime, security in built environments and crime risk mitigation has provided me with some expertise. There is NO magic to reducing crime and it’s impact. It requires effectual community initiatives coupled with aggressive (and proper) targeting of criminals and criminal activity. Criminals KNOW the System is ineffective and that punishment/accountability are consequently are comparatively non-existent. Soros and his ilk are not only delusional. They are dangerous. Even as this Leftist cabal works to protect criminals, while endangering the public, there has been a decades long loss of what used to be called “lines you do not cross.” In other words, the once clearly defined appropriate societal norms have virtually disappeared, replaced with some counter-intuitive “anything goes” mentality. As to the DFW area, you can expect rising crime and markedly anti-social behaviors to continue. Again, there’s nothing magic about proactively addressing rising crime, etc. There must be early intervention, clearly established limits, and definitive consequences for anti-societal behaviors. Oh, and with the explosive and largely uncontrolled growth in the DFW area, I can say with unfortunate confidence that OUR area will all too closely mimic Los Angeles within 20 years. And that’s NOT something to look forward to.

Betsy Whitfill
Betsy Whitfill
16 days ago

Whitney Tymas, head of the Soros initiative, quoted above as saying “We want to end mass incarceration”. She must not understand criminal behavior. If she did, she would have said “we want to end criminality”, and that would reduce mass incarceration.

jake gallerano
jake gallerano
16 days ago

Ah, crime is increasing in Dallas County – since when does the DA impact the number of crimes committed in any jurisdiction. The problem, or phenomena of increasing crime may be attributable to numerous factors, not least of these is growth and its impact on population. This is probably difficult to measure since construction booms attract large number of laborers attracted by a paycheck. The number of crimes committed in any area, generally can be correlated to the influx of people into an area. The DA can’t impact the number of crimes, or better stated a the number of people creating crimes. Charges and filings can easily be a reflection of police policy; any individual may be a victim of charge inflation (victims of a throwing the book mentality of policing). Throwing the book at any individual increases the number of hours the DA must spend on a case prior to filings. Additionally, it complicates setting bail, inflating jail population. Given the public outcry over the release of those accused of violent crime through the cash bail system an increase in pre-adjudicated jail population should be expected. There has been no consideration of the number of prosecutors in the DA’s office. As a little investigation into a recent story on unsupervised inmates jamming jail cell doors, an inability of the Sheriff to hire sufficient staff to supervise inmates was the source of the problem. In short, there is several factors that can contribute to this problem, none of which can naively, and politically be attributed to whomever is in the Office of District Attorney.

Randy
Randy
Reply to  jake gallerano
16 days ago

“… since when does the DA impact the number of crimes committed in any jurisdiction?”
When the DA stops prosecuting crime and ignores those that are committed; especially by repeat offenders. Many are pled down, worse, many are ignored. Crime is reduced when criminals are incarcerated and not out on our streets. While a few deserve a second chance, many have already demonstrated they should never be released from prison again.

Janet
Janet
Reply to  jake gallerano
16 days ago

Finally, a sensible comment! The blame game is easy. Finding solutions are tough. I believe you are providing some great food for thought, and make some great points. Refreshing!

Monte Mcdearmon
Monte Mcdearmon
16 days ago

the DA is a MORON!!! WHY ON GODS green earth DID PEOPLE VOTE FOR THIS MORON

Jimmy
Jimmy
11 days ago

Crime is a business. It is not about guilt or not

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