We lost the fight at the Legislature, but we're not giving up!
This session, the Texas Legislature stripped out provisions of the Sandra Bland Act to stop police from arresting people for non-jailable Class C misdemeanors (offenses for which the maximum punishment is a fine, not jail time). But we're not going to let that become the end of the story.
The Department of Public Safety, whose state trooper Brian Encina arrested Sandra Bland, could limit the arrest of Texas drivers for minor traffic violations through its own policies. To that end, Just Liberty has filed a formal petition requesting rule making, signed by representatives from 16 different groups, a bipartisan collection of legislators, as well as Sandra Bland's mother. The petition requests that DPS change its rules to eliminate most arrests for Class C misdemeanors unless the defendant poses a threat.
We can make this happen, but DPS Director Steven McCraw needs to hear from you! Tell him to work with Just Liberty to develop a new policy for Department of Public Safety troopers that will significantly reduce the arrest of motorists for non-jailable infractions.
Texas has thousands of small offenses on the books which are punishable only by a fine, not jail time. From failure to signal a lane change to rolling through a red light to an outdated inspection sticker, these offenses are typically quite minor. But Texas law lets police arrest people for these fine-only offenses and take them to jail.
This leads to abuse of power. According to public arrest data, thousands of Texans get arrested and booked each year on Class C misdemeanor traffic charges for which jail is NOT an allowable punishment. There's no good reason for that.
When Texans are arrested on these low-level offenses, the trip to jail is already a worse punishment than the maximum penalty under law. Just Liberty believes that's wrong, and now we have an opportunity to change it.
DPS can make traffic stops safer for both officers and drivers - and reinstate the civil liberties we believe in - by limiting arrests for non-jailable offenses. Learn more about this issue!