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Misdemeanor diversion

Sounds good to me.

Kim Ogg

Houston’s non-violent misdemeanor offenders will soon be cleaning up trash and invasive plant species plants along Buffalo Bayou in an initiative to help offenders clear up their criminal record, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Wednesday.

The program, dubbed “Clean and Green,” has existed in several incarnations since the 1970’s and was one of Ogg’s campaign promises when she ran for DA in 2014, and again when she won in 2016.

“It’s a big reason why I ran,” the top prosecutor said Wednesday as she announced the program at the historic Allen’s Landing, a downtown recreational area on the bayou. “I wanted to ‘green’ criminal justice. I felt like our system could give back in a measurable, meaningful way. Counting the cubic tons of garbage or how many tons of plastic we pull out, it all has a public safety value.”

Misdemeanor offenders, 17 and older, will be allowed to clean up litter and invasive plants, skim waterways and perform other conservation services in public spaces across the county, especially along bayous and tributaries, according to Ogg.

Eligibility for the program, which starts this month, will be determined by prosecutors on a case-by-case basis and excludes defendants facing domestic violence, assault or weapons charges.

[…]

The initiative is expected to offer 160 offenders a month the opportunity to avoid a criminal record while reducing tax dollars currently spent on traditional prosecution and punishment of those offenders.

If selected, participants will be required to work one or two six-hours shifts. They will have to pay $240 to participate, unless they are indigent. Completion of the program fulfills the community-service requirement of pre-trial diversion contracts.

If they successfully complete the program, their criminal case will be dismissed and the arrest can be expunged, Ogg said.

I approve of all of this. This is what we should want to do with non-violent misdemeanor offenders. And yes, it’s what we voted for. Keep up the good work.

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7 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    I would like to see a list of the crimes that qualify for this ‘diversion program.’

    I bet cash cows like speeding tickets don’t qualify for a 6 hour community service sentence.

  2. Robbie Westmoreland says:

    Traffic violations have a pretrial diversion program already, by way of defensive driving courses.
    White people get speeding tickets, so we’ve had a way to keep those off the record for decades.

  3. Joel says:

    “I bet cash cows like speeding tickets don’t qualify for a 6 hour community service sentence.”

    what do you think defensive driving is?

    man, the stuff you say is like volleyball spike clueless. and it appears reliably in every post.

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    Joel,

    Insults aside, one thing is not like the other. Yes, you can pay a smaller fine and spend 8 hours in a defensive driving class to address a speeding ticket, but you still have to pay when you choose that option. You pay the court, pay DPS for a copy of your driving record, and pay the defensive driving school.

    Did you not read the article? Indigent defendants will have the $ 240 fine waived, so they go pick up trash on the bayou for 6 hours, (not 8), and pay nothing. Sweet deal, if you can get it.

    How many ‘indigent’ people pick up speeding tickets daily? I bet it’s a significant number, and those fines are not waived.

  5. Corey Olomon says:

    The DA’s office has no authority over traffic tickets. They are prosecuted by either the City or County Attorney’s office.

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    @Corey:

    ” They are prosecuted by either the City or County Attorney’s office.”

    Isn’t Kim Ogg the head of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office?

  7. Corey Olomon says:

    There are two separate elected positions.. County Attorney (Vince Ryan) and District Attorney (Kim Ogg).