Bexar County’s cite-and-release program for certain misdemeanor offenses including possession of small amounts of marijuana deserves an endorsement from the community.

This major leap in progressive criminal-justice enforcement will create more jail space for hardened felons, and allow folks who make a simple mistake a second chance at clearing their names without going behind bars.

The pilot program, announced by Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood and endorsed by San Antonio Police Chief William McManus and Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, allows officers who detain people for low-level offenses the option of arresting them or issuing a citation for a summons.

LaHood said the approach keeps officers on the street, curtails a backlog in the court system, and removes the stigma of arrest for poor decision-making.

When the accused appears for the summons, a person can opt to perform community service or attend a class. No mug shot is taken and the charge doesn’t appear on one’s record. This covers Class A and Class B possession of marijuana (4 ounces and under); Class B criminal mischief; Class B theft; Class B theft of service; and Class B driving with an invalid license.

Police and prosecutors need to focus on the truly terrible crimes tearing apart the community. Cite and release is a logical and equitable approach to balancing the scales of justice.

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