Coalition of 26 Local Advocacy Groups Urge City of San Antonio and San Antonio Police Department to halt arrests for all low level offenses
SAN ANTONIO — Last Friday, County Judge Nelson Wolff suspended arrests for all minor offenses for 30 days. This decision is a clear recognition that the criminal legal system does not deem these arrests mandatory. We should decriminalize all low-level offenses such as marijuana possession, theft, and driving with an invalid license, as well as all ticketable offenses, also known as Class C misdemeanors.
Today we demand the City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Police Department halt arrests for all low level offenses not just during the COVID-19 pandemic, but once and for all. The City and SAPD must work with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s Office to enact this permanent policy.
We also demand the immediate release of everyone who does not pose a danger to others, including all who are serving a misdemeanor sentence or in pre-trial detention and anyone who is medically vulnerable.
Since 2018, the SA Stands coalition has advocated for the decriminalization of low-level offenses, and pushed for the implementation of a cite and release program. Unfortunately, since the start of this program we have seen that officers continue to use their discretion to arrest more than they cite. Arrests have harsh consequences for all our San Antonio residents, as they impact future work, education, and service opportunities.
We strongly believe that all of the resources that are put into misdemeanor arrests should be invested in the treatment and support services needed by the individuals who come in contact with law enforcement. This investment would create lasting benefits for our community, instead of continuing the harmful cycle of arrests and long-term societal exclusion.