Candidates responding: Jose Carlos Gonzalez, Marcel Vonye' McClinton, Janaeya Carmouche

Municipal Court Fines & Fees, Community Service

The Houston City Council and Mayor sets policy for the municipal courts in Houston. These courts hear only Class C Misdemeanors - including such common offenses as minor traffic offenses, public intoxication, and violating other municipal ordinances.

As a City Councilmember, would you eliminate the practice of jailing people just for failure to pay fines and fees to the municipal court, if they are indigent?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: For non-violent misdemeanors as per amended Rule 9

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Would you make one of the performance review issues for municipal judges their treatment of citizens who lack the ability to pay fines? For instance, the decision on whether to rehire municipal judges could include a review of whether they are jailing people for fines and fees related to Class C Misdemeanors or whether they are appropriately waiving fines or converting them into community service when people cannot afford to pay them.

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: Yes

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes, Yes, I support the example provided. We should not rehire municipal judges if they have consistent records of jailing people rather than turning them into the programs as mentioned.

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Would you end or reform the Omnibase program, which is a city contract that allows the municipal court to put a hold on people renewing their drivers’ licenses if they have not paid City of Houston Municipal Court fines or fees?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to city council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and lead review of ALL programs pertaining the application of justice in the city.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

More than 68,000 warrants for failure to appear and 23,000 warrants for failure to pay were issued by the Houston Municipal Court last year. Would you support reducing warrants for the arrest of people charged with Class C Misdemeanors who fail to appear in court or fail to pay a fine?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to city council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and lead review of ALL programs pertaining the application of justice in the city.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Decriminalizing Homelessness

Most Texas cities currently criminalize people for activities they cannot control when they are homeless. For instance, the City of Houston has a "No Camping" ordinance, but no provision of what people can do if they are homeless. Other such offenses include No Sitting or No Lying in a public walkway.

Would you vote to decriminalize the daily activities of people experiencing homelessness?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to city council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and lead review of ALL programs pertaining the application of justice in the city.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes. I will legislate with compassion and offer comprehensive solutions to ending homelessness in the city rather than criminalize it. My family was homeless and sheltered for 9 months when I was younger, so this issue is deeply personal for me.

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Cite and Release Policies

Texas state law allows local police departments to develop policies under which police may issue a citation instead of arresting someone for certain Class B and Class A Misdemeanors. Such "cite and release" eligible offenses include Driving with an Invalid License, Possession of Marijuana, and Theft (between $100 and $750). However, most city police departments lack policies that empower officers to use cite and release on a regular basis, and therefore, jails are filled with people who were booked in on these low-level, nonviolent offenses.

Will you ask the Houston Police Department to implement a broad cite and release policy?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to city council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and lead review of ALL programs pertaining the application of justice in the city. The intent of the review is to minimize the jailing of people unnecessarily.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes, I would like more information on the theft infraction

De-Escalation and Use of Force by the Police Department

Other government agencies control many aspects of criminal justice, but the Houston City Council has the most direct control over policing by the Houston Police Department.

Will you demand that the Houston Police Department make their “Use of Force” policies public?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: Yes

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Will you demand that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to limit the use of choke holds and strangleholds to situations where deadly force is authorized?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: Yes

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Will you demand that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to require officers to give a verbal warning, when possible, before using force, especially deadly force?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to city council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and lead review of ALL programs pertaining the application of justice in the city. The intent of the review is to minimize the use of force on people unnecessarily.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Will you advocate that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to restrict shooting at moving vehicles unless the occupants of the vehicle are using deadly force?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to city council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and lead review of ALL programs pertaining the application of justice in the city. The intent of the review is to minimize the use of force on people unnecessarily.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes, if the occupants are posing a clear threat or danger to officers or the general public. We must do everything in our power to reduce the number of officer- involved shootings when many times deadly force wasn't necessary.

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Will you demand that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to require that officers exhaust all other means before shooting?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to city council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and lead review of ALL programs pertaining the application of justice in the city. The intent of the review is to minimize the use of force on people unnecessarily.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Will you demand that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to require officers to intervene and stop another officer from using excessive force?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to city council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and lead review of ALL programs pertaining the application of justice in the city. The intent of the review is to minimize the use of force on people unnecessarily.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes, If the officer has been present during the escalation and feels that there is reason to pursue excessive force.

Will you demand that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to require officers to report all uses of force including threatening a civilian with a firearm?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to city council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and lead review of ALL programs pertaining the application of justice in the city. The intent of the review is to minimize the use of force on people unnecessarily.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Will you demand that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to require de-escalation of potentially fraught situations?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: Yes

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Will you demand that the Houston Police Department revise its use of force policies to provide specific guidelines for when certain levels of force are authorized?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to city council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and lead review of ALL programs pertaining the application of justice in the city. The intent of the review is to minimize the use of force on people unnecessarily.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Will you work with the Houston Police Department to implement training in de-escalation techniques for all officers?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: Yes

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Will you commit to asking the Houston Police Department to develop a policy to release body worn camera video of critical incidents?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: Yes

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Informing People of Their Rights Post SB-4

SB 4 makes it illegal to instruct law enforcement not to cooperate with ICE.

Will you implement a policy so that before police ask about the immigration status of anyone they have lawfully detained, they inform such persons of their right to remain silent?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and thoroughly review all criminal justice policies and procedures.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion

Several cities across the country have begun using LEAD programs to avoid arresting people for offenses including prostitution, drug possession, and mental health issues. LEAD programs allow law enforcement officers to connect people directly to the services they need instead of arresting them.

Will you work with the Houston Police Department to implement a LEAD program?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: Yes

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Police Accountability

The Houston Police union contract will be renegotiated in 2020.

Will you negotiate a new police union contract in 2020 that will end the mandatory waiting period before an interview begins in the instances of potential police misconduct?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and review all programs, policies, procedures and contracts related to the application of justice in the city.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Will you negotiate a new police union contract that will eliminate technical reasons for dismissing complaints, such as limited timeframes to report complaints and other issues like this?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and review all programs, policies, procedures and contracts related to the application of justice in the city.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Will you negotiate a new police union contract that will eliminate the practice of giving officers unfair access to information about complaints? For instance, in Houston, the current police union contract entitles officers to see witness statements *before interrogation*, a benefit that no ordinary defendant gets.

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and review all programs, policies, procedures and contracts related to the application of justice in the city.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Will you negotiate a new police union contract in 2020 that will ensure that there is full civilian oversight over the police department and disciplinary procedures?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and review all programs, policies, procedures and contracts related to the application of justice in the city.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Will you negotiate a new police union contract that will ensure that misconduct is not erased from police records?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to council I will seek appointment on the homeland security committee and review all programs, policies, procedures and contracts related to the application of justice in the city.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Yes

Janaeya Carmouche: Yes

Criminal Justice Priorities

Of the issues listed above, what would be your top priority to work on? Why?

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: My top priority will be the thorough review of the criminal justice by the homeland security committee of the city, and ending the 'incarceration generation' of indigent and non-violent misdemeanor offenders.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: Introducing a new police union agreement that includes all of the important additions and subtractions that I support listed above.

Janaeya Carmouche: Negotiating the police union contract to become more transparent and equitable in its internal/external interactions. This will be the most substantial move forward in positively advancing public safety efforts.

Are there any additional important issues of law enforcement and criminal justice that you want to push? Why? Please talk about specific policy changes you would seek.

Jose Carlos Gonzalez: If elected to city council I will advocate for Community Policing programs that bring law enforcement closer to the communities. The Gonzalez for City Council at large #3 campaign has a homeland security plan with a strong criminal justice component. This plan includes ending the incarceration generation (see above) and transforming criminal justice from a system that incarcerates substance abuse and mental illness individuals, to one that diverts these individuals to rehabilitation services. Our plan contemplates ending the underfunded school to overcrowded jail pipelines.

Marcel Vonye' McClinton: We need to see fewer juveniles transitioning into adult crime. We should open doors for our officers to direct behavioral health, education, and mentorship, and after school services and resources for young people committing misdemeanor crimes.

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