Wednesday was a benchmark day for Nueces County’s “Cite and Release” program.
Under the program, people found committing certain misdemeanors get a ticket and a court date instead of a trip to jail.
The first of its kind program in Texas has now been active for a month, and officials are happy with the early results.
Eleven non-violent offenders had their day in court Wednesday as part of “Cite and Release”.
“We’re encouraged that law enforcement is using this tool as a way to continue enforcing the law,” said Matt Manning, First Assistant District Attorney.
While “Cite and Release” covers seven Class ‘A’ or ‘B’ misdemeanors, most appearing were there for the same offense.
“The majority were possession of marijuana charges,” said Assistant Chief Mark Schauer of the Corpus Christi Police Dept.
According to the District Attorney’s office, 17 of 34 offenders have appeared to answer their charges so far. That’s a 50 percent success rate in the first month, though this week’s number was lower. However, program organizers are encouraged by the start.
“My understanding is that the state average is around 40 percent, that would be what we had today,” said Manning. “As long as we numbers exceeding that in the future, we won’t have any issues.”
“Cite and Release” was a joint venture between the D.A.’s office and law enforcement designed to streamline the judicial process and cut down on overcrowding at the county jail.
“It’s kind of a one-stop shop to be able to take care of this,” said Schauer. “You don’t need an attorney to come through this either, not unless you want one.”
While the program makes the legal process easier, offenders aren’t let off easy.
“It’s the same outcome of the case, it’s just a different way of getting there,” said Schauer.
“Cite and Release” cases are heard on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month in the Central Jury Room at the Nueces County Courthouse. According to the D.A.’s office, anyone who doesn’t appear for their court date will be given a second chance. If they don’t appear the second time, a warrant is issued for their arrest.