40% of Defendants No-Shows in Austin “Cite and Release” Program


Instead of easing the strain on the criminal justice system in Austin’s Travis County, a program where minor-crime suspects are ticketed and released with a court date has resulted in thousands of cases left pending, offenders unpunished, and staffers processing warrants for suspects who fled, the Austin American-Statesman reports. The paper says 40 percent of defendants in the program are no-shows.

In the four-year-old program, offenders for relatively minor crimes such as shoplifting and low-quantity drug possession get a ticket with a date to show up in court. Such “cite and release” programs — made possible by a 2007 change to state misdemeanor laws — were meant to ease crowding at county jails and free officers from the hours it can take to transport and book a suspect, allowing them to focus on more serious crime.

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