“Ethics Dunce” Doesn’t Do Justice To Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot…Ethics Virus, Perhaps?

“Should All Thefts Be Prosecuted?” the headline asks rhetorically. Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear…never mind, you get the point. Of course all thefts should be prosecuted, just like all laws should be enforced. It is a stupid question, and should be immediately recognized as such, yet, that headline goes on tell us, “Dallas County’s District Attorney Says No.”

Really? Then he is unqualified for office, an ethics corrupter, and a carrier of ethics rot. That DA—his name is John Creuzot–should resign, or be impeached. A prosecutor who doesn’t believe in enforcing laws is an unethical prosecutor, an untrustworthy prosecutor, biased and dangerous to society.

Creuzot has announced several measures of varying levels of justification and controversy to reform the justice system, which is certainly not without need to reform. However, one of them is unethical in multiple ways…

Study after study shows that when we arrest, jail, and convict people for non-violent crimes committed out of necessity, we only prevent that person from gaining the stability necessary to lead a law-abiding life. Criminalizing poverty is counter-productive for our community’s health and safety. For that reason, this office will not prosecute theft of personal items less than $750 unless the evidence shows that the alleged theft was for economic gain.

Creuzot explains that prosecuting poor people for stealing essential items wastes taxpayer money because they won’t come out any more financially stable after they serve their sentence, and prosecution won’t help the business that was robbed. “The question is, if we put them in jail, are they going to pay restitution? You know what the answer is: No,” Creuzot said. “So we’ve burned up taxpayer money for a hungry person or a needy person under this fake premise that we’re going to get the money back. And it doesn’t happen.”

Of course, sometimes that $750 limit won’t be recognized. “If they’re stealing $750 worth of diapers, let’s be honest: It’s going to take a lot of rear ends to put $750 worth of diapers on, so that probably doesn’t fit that category and so we would prosecute that case,” Creuzot says.

In other words, Creuzot thinks it’s just to prosecute some people  for violating laws, and not to prosecute others for violating the same laws. This is not only destructive to the rule of law, undermining citizen belief in the justice system, and an official green light for the “right” people to take the property of others because they really really need it, it is per se discrimination, a violation of the Constitutional principle of Equal Protection, and a dangerous expansion of prosecutorial power. Heads should be exploding all over Dallas.  To begin with law breakers are punished because if they aren’t punished, there’s no incentive to abide by the law, not because they will “pay restitution.” Moreover,  Creuzot’s formula sounds nice, but is ridiculous in practice: “Let’s see, well, you stole $700 worth of food, but you look hungry and have kids, so its OK, but YOU stole $400 worth of steaks, and you look pretty chunky, plus you have a job…but wait, you’re not going to fence the steaks, are you? I guess that’s OK too. It’s not like if you stole diapers, unless you were planning on eating the diapers, of course. Now, if you stole the $400 worth of steaks from the poor, virtuous thief who stole the $700 worth of food, then that IS theft, unless you’re somehow poorer than  he is…”

WHAT? This is a deadly slippery slope “justice” system that encourages and de-stigmatizes theft, removes protection from targets of theft, and allows the DA to factor in race, ethnicity, health, age and any number of irrelevant factors—and anything else he wants to– to justify prosecuting some citizens while other citizens go free and unpunished for the exact same crime. It is, however, a predictable result of years of false and insidious arguments that that there is a difference between good illegal immigrants, who shouldn’t be prosecuted because of who they are and the good reasons they had to break our laws, and the bad illegal immigrants.

If one has swallowed that unethical argument, the poison peddled by Dallas’s DA seems almost tasty.

33 thoughts on ““Ethics Dunce” Doesn’t Do Justice To Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot…Ethics Virus, Perhaps?

  1. I’m reminded of the story from Florida where a lady checks her security cameras and sees a young man breaking into her house. She leaves work and drives home to confront the burglar. He was still there, a confrontation ensues, and he’s shot and killed by the homeowner. The young man’s family asserts he was a fine, loving fellow, and was only stealing because he wanted to better himself. “How else is he gonna get what he needs to go to school?” asks a cousin/sister/aunt.
    I wonder if there will be an increase in shootings in Dallas if homeowners know there will be no justice when break ins occur. I mean, how else are thieves going to survive, if they can’t take what belongs to another? And now minor theft is sanctioned, as long as you really, truly, need something.

      • Could be Dallas, Houston, or Austin: nice progressive strongholds. San Antonio is a stretch, as is Ft. Worth: they still believe in law and order. Try that in Bryan, or San Angelo, and a DA would quickly be in private practice.

        Note that many refugees from other states settle in these blue urban zones, and bring the very things they ran from with them: progressive politics. Like a bad zombie movie, they carry the seeds of their destruction with them.

        • All true. San Antonio City Council’s trying to ban Chick-Fil-A from the airport isn’t being received well here in South Bexar…nor at the State level.

  2. This is the same song, different verse. If there are too many black kids getting suspended from schools, stop suspending them. Get black students to behave? Are you crazy? If there are too many black guys in jail, stop arresting them and let the ones in jail out. Have black guys get decent job and abide by society’s rules and laws? Hah! If admissions standards are too high for black applicants, lower the standards. Expect black people to compete on a level playing field? I fart in your general direction. If there aren’t enough black people voting (for Democrats, of course) because too many are convicted felons, allow felons to vote. Expect people to not commit felonies so they can enjoy an important right granted to law abiding citizens? Are you crazy?

    By the way, this guy in Dallas is no different in this regard than the DA in Chicago. This is a very popular gimmick among DAs of Color. Ironic since I assume the vast majority of these “non-violent crimes” occur in Neighborhoods of Color and at the expense of other People of Color.

  3. “Moral hazard” not in this guy’s lexicon? He’ll need to print out a flow chart for thieves to use to determine their “right” to commit a particular theft. Do they have to steal the actual items they need, or is a cash equivalent permissible? How about things that can be easily sold for the cash needed?

    My parents lived in the suburbs, but still within the boundaries, of a city that like many, eventually transitioned to a minority government. Not liking the fact that auto theft seemed to be highly weighted to being committed by a particular demographic, the city’s solution was to began treating nearly all such thefts as incidents of “joy-riding”, rather than grand theft felonies. Prosecution typically only occurred if the perps happened to be picked up while still in possession of the car, as virtually no investigation was ever done otherwise. Not surprisingly, this only increased the incidence of such crimes. After more than 40 years residence with no issues, my folks lost one car from their garage (never recovered), and one from a grocery store parking lot within a couple of years.

    We tend to downplay the seriousness of theft or property damage. For most people, their possessions have been acquired by essentially trading part of their life (working) for them, and maybe carry an emotional value as well. Sometimes, all or part of the value is not recovered, even with insurance, and/or the exact thing cannot be replaced. Ask me how I feel about the burglary loss of the piece of antique jewelry that was my wedding gift to my wife.

    • Willem Reese wrote, “We tend to downplay the seriousness of theft or property damage.”

      Absolutely correct! The criminal justice system differentiates between “crimes against persons” and “crimes against property,” (as thought the property itself were the victim) but I have yet to meet a victim of a residential burglary and theft who didn’t feel personally violated by the experience. My grandfather’s railroad pocket watch was stolen in a burglary in the 1970s and this family heirloom was never recovered. To this day, I take that loss very personally.

      It also seems that many criminal justice policy-makers today are intent on unlearning many of the lessons of the “community policing” research of the 1970s and 1980s. For just two examples, I would direct your attention to the following:
      1. Wilson, James Q and Kelling, George L, “Broken Windows: The police and neighborhood safety”, The Atlantic, March 1982, and
      2. James K. Stewart, ‘The Urban Strangler: How Crime Causes Poverty in the Inner City,” Policy Review, No. 37 (Summer 1986), pp. 6-10.
      Both these articles influenced criminal justice policies that questioned a lot of conventional wisdom and pointed the way to more effective policing strategies. Apparently, these methods have been abandoned in many of the places that needed them the most.

  4. Since it’s possible to become a public servant without taking a single economics or civics course, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised…but I do wish these clowns understood how fragile economies are, and how just one idiot bureaucrat’s thumb in the scale can send everything spiraling downwards…

    Hard-working private citizens aren’t just magically going to keep wanting to open stores selling essential goods in your city after you’ve announced to shoplifters that it’s open season on their stock.

    • …or allow those fine upstanding citizens the ‘room’ to burn or vandalize your store due to some imagined injustice that occurred weeks ago.

      Many store owners left inner city Baltimore and Ferguson.

  5. How long before the police force, knowing the DA won’t take the cases, stops enforcing the law? This leads to the privatization of police organizations, increased utilization of private security contractors and we end up with private citizens that aren’t “hamstrung” by constitutional rights considerations.

  6. Here’s a headline for criminals in Dallas who can’t read between the lines:
    “It’s OK to steal phones in Dallas now!”

  7. I find myself resistant to the notion that people steal necessities. I’ve been present when shoplifters were caught, and they always had high-dollar, inedible luxury items. The notion that theft proceeds from poverty in this of all countries is absurd. I wonder if it would be possible to search the entirety of America’s criminal underbelly and find even one Jean valJean. No, more likely the now prevalent idea that other people, collectively, owe you success is a cause of both criminal behavior and poverty. People who have no qualms about taking another’s property probably also trend toward unemployability.

  8. This is the law in many parts of California. Officers can’t arrest someone for property crimes under $1000. They can only issue a court summons in the name the person gives them and let them go. They aren’t allowed to ask for ID.

    I get the impression that the people who support these type of measures are wealthy and live in well-protected communities. This is devastating for poor people. If someone breaks into a wealthy person’s car, they can pay the $100 for a new window in the car, they can pay to replace the items stolen. It is an inconvenience. For a poor person, it may mean taping a plastic bag over the window at night and driving the car with the window open even in freezing temperatures. If a rich person’s house is burglarized, they probably have insurance to cover some and can afford the deductible. A poor person scrimps and saves to buy things for their house and if they are stolen, they are gone. It may take months or years to replace it all. I have heard of areas where they just don’t bother any more. The poor leave the windows and doors unlocked so the thieves won’t break them. They have lost all hope of every owning a microwave, or a TV, or a computer. If they every buy one, it will be stolen within days. This is just the soft racism of the Democratic Party. They support things like this because they believe that all blacks are criminals.

  9. I remember talking about this in high school. A friend of mine asked, “What if someone is going hungry and steals a loaf of bread?” I answered that hunger doesn’t justify theft, and someone who’s going hungry still has the option to ask for help, and there are a lot of people who are willing to help.

    • Point 1: You can’t rely on people to self-identify that they ‘need’ it. Cardi B worked as a stripper (and was paid for it), but felt she needed to rob men to support herself. She probably had a good income, and also probably felt justified in robbing the men because she ‘needed’ it.

      Point 2: Many people are willing to help are getting conned. If I meet someone on the street who says they are hungry and asks for money, I try to give them food. I am 1-8 on this lately. In the last case, I was in a restaurant that also has a market attached to it. I was shopping in the market area and a man said he was hungry and wanted food. I offered to buy him a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter (a whole loaf and a jar of peanut butter goes a long way). He refused. I asked him if he was allergic and he said no, he just wanted a hamburger and a shake, so he needed cash. A man knocked on the door of one of my neighbors and asked for cash for food. She offered him a bag of food, but he criticized each food item and rejected it, again asking for cash. My son asks why I don’t give money to the people holding the signs at Wal-Mart asking for money for food. I point out to him that they are standing directly under signs that say ‘Help Wanted, all positions, all shifts’. They are con-artists.

      Point 3: You can help people in need, but you unfortunately have to be a little selective. I try to give food each week to an organization that gives out food and clothing to people in need. I no longer have yard sales, it goes straight to people who need it. People find out about this place by referral or word of mouth. Each day it is open it gives food and clothing to over 100 families. As for the 1 of the 1-8 in point 2, a woman walked up to me while I was doing yardwork and said she hadn’t eaten in 2 days. I went inside and gave her 2 1/2 loaves of bread, 2 jars of peanut butter, some fruit, some bottled water, and some plastic utensils. She was so happy, thanked me and left. You don’t have to break into someone’s house if you are hungry. There are people who will help.

      • You’re absolutely right, of course. I was approached by a beggar in San Francisco asking for money for food for him and his daughter (who wasn’t in sight). I offered to take him to a Burger King nearby where I could buy them food, but he insisted on cash. So I didn’t give him anything.

  10. I find it telling that they make a distinction between stealing to obtain the necessities of life and stealing “for economic gain”. It seems to me that for most people, a solid majority of what they do for money is for the purpose of procuring needful things. Economic gain is mostly about getting the things you need.

  11. I’d like to nominate Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) for Ethics Dunce. Her economically ignorant “grilling” of JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon is making the rounds, and progressives just love it. She tells the sob story of a hypothetical single mother with a 6-year-old daughter who can’t afford a $1,600 one-bedroom apartment in Irvine, CA on an entry-level bank teller position that pays $16.50 an hour. That is, of course, the CEO’s responsibility to rectify.

  12. Creuzot is an irredeemable copy-cat.

    Based on my regular…um…testimonials to The 77 Square Miles Surrounded By A Sea Of Reality it shouldn’t shock anyone that this approach “seemed like a good idea at the time” in Madison over 3.5 years ago.

    At least to UW-Madison (GO BADGERS!!) director of community relations Everett Mitchell it did.

    The talented Mr. Mitchell had the prescient vision (here in an 08/22/2015 EA piece) that LE shouldn’t bother responding to retail theft offenses:

    “I just don’t think that they should be prosecuting cases … for people who steal from Wal-Mart. I just don’t think that, right? I don’t think [with] Target or all them (sic) other places, them (sic) big box stores that have insurance, they should be using justification, the fact that people steal from there as justification to start engaging in aggressive police practices, right?”

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