Monday Night Politics: Meet the Candidates
Forum features candidates running for district attorney
DENISHA McKNIGHT | 10/1/2018, 1:49 p.m.
Q: Greg Abbott proposed a deal that would make it hard for Black and Brown people to afford bail. Do you agree with this bill and how will you go about ending the cash bail system?
Johnson: I am absolutely for bail reform. Before we even start collaborating within the county with the different entities – county commissioners [and] judges, all the different entities that are now being formed to look at bail reform.
I was already approaching judges, misdemeanor and felony judges, about, ‘Let’s make a difference.’ Poor people should not be locked up and stay in jail just because they can’t afford to get out on bail, and I’m against that. I’m absolutely against it, and that is the reason why we have the many – although, keep in mind people, the DA’s office is not the office that actually sets the bond – but we can have influence on whether or not the judge is going to do something in regards to the bond. That’s one of the reasons for marijuana cases, 4 ounces or less.
We recommend PR bonds. We recommend that on all marijuana cases. This particular committee, we’re almost close to coming up with what we believe is an accurate assessment for a bond and that took judges, the DA’s office – we were just weighing on it, the commissioner’s court and some of the other entities in Dallas County. We will not put up, and I do believe the judges support this, too, and every entity in Dallas County supports the fact that we do need bail reform and we don’t have to put people in jail because they can’t afford it.
Creuzot: Let’s talk about whether we even file those cases that are all low level cases that don’t have anything to do with the threat to community safety because that’s what most of those cases are. Don’t believe that people with misdemeanor amounts of marijuana aren’t getting records and aren’t going to jail because that’s not true. Some of them are. Quite a number of them are. … The reality of it is that it is an underlying problem. Why don’t instead of taking them to jail, we shift them over to a place where we can solve the problem? It may be alcohol. It may be mental health. It may be drugs. We shouldn’t even be dealing with these things. That’s why I’m telling you. When I’m elected district attorney, we are going to see some things fundamentally different. And this ‘I got your back’ talk doesn’t change anything. You better change the policies, and you better start looking at what you’re doing. You better start keeping numbers just like I said – 68 percent reduction in rearrest. If we didn’t arrest you, you didn’t commit a what before that?
[‘Crime,’ the audience replied loudly.]
You got it. If you spent a dollar and saved $9.34, you get to do what? Pay some teachers some more. Let’s talk about a DA who understands numbers and got policies and got programs that is going to change something here.
NOTE: Oct. 9 is the last day for Dallas County residents to register to vote in the General and Joint Election on Election Day, Nov. 6. Early voting will begin Oct. 22 and end Nov. 2 at select voting locations in recreation centers, schools and libraries throughout the county.