DISTRICT A

Candidate responding: Iesheia Wilson

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?

Iesheia Wilson: 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.

Iesheia Wilson: 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?


Iesheia Wilson: No


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?


Iesheia Wilson: 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?


Iesheia Wilson: 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?


Iesheia Wilson: Yes


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?


Iesheia Wilson: 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?


Iesheia Wilson: 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?


Iesheia Wilson: Yes


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


Iesheia Wilson: 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?


Iesheia Wilson: 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?


Iesheia Wilson: Yes


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?


Iesheia Wilson: Yes


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


Iesheia Wilson: 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?


Iesheia Wilson: Yes


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


Iesheia Wilson: Yes


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


Iesheia Wilson: 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?


Iesheia Wilson: Yes


Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD)

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?


Iesheia Wilson: 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?


Iesheia Wilson: No


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?


Iesheia Wilson: No


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.


Iesheia Wilson: 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?


Iesheia Wilson: Yes


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


Iesheia Wilson: Yes


Tell us about your law enforcement and criminal justice priorities.

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

Iesheia Wilson: Training or lack or lack thereof. I firmly believe that officers new and old need to be retrained on how to handle people of color. Too many times have I seen people of color be harrassed, unlawfully searched or just plain old be arrested for an officer saying he felt disrespected or because they were having a bad day. This needs to change.

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.


Iesheia Wilson: I know several people who were arrested on small crimes, but couldn't afford proper representation. I would like to see nonviolent offenders be given public defenders who are not overworked and underpaid. I would also like to work on not having public defenders just tell the defendant to take a deal just so the case can be over and done with or because they feel like they won't have enough time to work the case.

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