Item 29: Criminal Justice Reform Committee Purpose Statement

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Staff member
Summary of May 7, 2019, council meeting when committee was established:

At the May 7, 2019 council meeting, Council members Mihalkanin, Prewitt, and Marquez asked for a discussion item on this subject. Item #28 "Discuss and potentially create a council committee on Criminal Justice Reform, and provide direction to Staff."

The main purpose as initiated by Council Member Mihalkanin was regarding arrests vs ticketing, bail amounts, incarceration, and the effects on lower income people.

Council Member Prewitt continued about the county's efforts and they have now created their Criminal Justice Commission. She noted the need for the city to work with the county and not be silos.

She also noted she had attended that day's County Commission meeting to hear about a possible Public Defender's office. She then stated that rather than, or in addition to, the reasons why a crime is committee should be reviewed, not just the crime. For example, if someone is stealing, what is the reason? Need a job? Let's see how we can help the root problem. She noted she hopes the county will take action soon.

Council Member Marquez noted the over-crowding at the jail and stated we should look at cite and release instead of arrests in certain cases and that possession of less than 2 oz. of marijuana is the most comment arrest in Hays County. She stated that it disproportionately affects people of color. We should also be looking at expanding forms of ID, not just for immigrant population but for the homeless.

During the discussion City Clerk, Jamie Lee Case, noted we needed to give the task to be done. Council Member Mihalkanin noted "review the ordinances and procedures of the COSM" and Council Member Prewitt noted working with the county and included jail alternatives such as diversion programs and cite-and-release.

Police Chief, Chase Stapp, noted he is on the County CJR Commission as a voting member representative from the local police chiefs. They had only met once or twice at that point.

Jail out-sourcing was mentioned again.

The committee of council members was set by those three volunteering and all seven council members voting YES.

Generally speaking, the discussion was about how to work with the county to get to ways to avoid sending people to jail (cite/release and diversion), to see what underlying needs are, and to help as we can.
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