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Local Prosecutors Fight Against Sessions' Tough-on-drugs Policy


Check out @DrugPolicyOrg's Tweet: View: https://twitter.com/DrugPolicyOrg/status/850101810819985408?s=09

Article link: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/trials_and_error/2017/04/local_prosecutors_can_resist_jeff_sessions_push_for_stricter_drug_laws.HTML?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_fb_top

When Kim Ogg ran for district attorney in Harris County, Texas, she pitched herself as a progressive who’d change the “war on drugs” ideology that has clogged the county jail with nonviolent marijuana users. Upon her election, Ogg made good on that promise, announcing a program that will allow county residents caught with 4 ounces or less of marijuana to stay out of jail in exchange for taking a four-hour, $150 class on decision-making. The new district attorney estimates the program will divert 12,000 people from jail each year and save the county, which includes the city of Houston, more than $10 million annually.

For a long time, Houston was known for its incredibly harsh drug penalties. Ogg’s predecessor, Devon Anderson, was also known for prosecuting “trace cases,” in which a minuscule amount of cocaine is detected, as felonies. Anderson launched a meek diversion program—it was open only to first-time offenders who possessed less than 2 ounces of marijuana—after Ogg first presented her own plan during her unsuccessful 2014 district attorney campaign. Ogg, by contrast, has drawn a direct line between marijuana arrests and the overburdened criminal justice system. “At 107,000 cases over the last 10 years, we have spent in excess of $250 million collectively prosecuting a crime that has produced no tangible evidence of improved public safety,” she told reporters in February.

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