A Dallas County prosecutor set off a firestorm of controversy last week when he announced his office will no longer prosecute cases of theft under $750 or "low-level" drug possession.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot released a letter on Wednesday detailing his sweeping reform measures, including releasing defendants who steal "personal items" or drugs valued at $749.99. or less.
Creuzot, a Democrat, defined "personal items" as necessities such as bread, milk, diapers or baby formula. He didn't explain how drugs fall under the category of necessities.
"Personal items are limited to necessary items," he wrote. "Personal items would include items such as necessary food, diapers and baby formula.
He added that thieves can walk free as long as the items they steal are not for "economic gain."
He said most thefts of "lower-value" necessary items are done so out of hunger and poverty. And he hoped his new measures will end "mass incarceration" and jail time for violations which aren't a threat to public safety.
Creuzot said criminals who steal more expensive merchandise are more likely doing so for economic gain.
He wrote that thefts of items valued between $100 and $750 qualify as a Class B misdemeanor under state law.
Creuzot has come under fire from the governor, mayor, police department, a police union and many retailers who are considering closing stores in low-income neighborhoods where retail crimes are exceedingly high.
Creuzot has already dismissed more than 1,000 drug possession cases since taking office this year, according to the Dallas Morning News.
In a tweet on Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott said Creuzot's new policy amounts to "wealth redistribution by theft."
"If someone is hungry they can just steal some food. If cold, steal a coat. Where does it end?"
On Wednesday, the largest police union in the state called for Creuzot to be removed from office.
Sgt. Todd Harrison, the president of the union, Sid Creuzot has opened up many windows to allow the common criminal to feast on the business retail community.”
Dallas Co. District Attorney stokes crime by refusing to prosecute theft of personal items worth less than $750. If someone is hungry they can just steal some food. If cold, steal a coat. Where does it end? It's wealth redistribution by theft. #txlege https://t.co/dqfYogr4NX
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 15, 2019
Stock photo by Jub Rubjob/Getty Images