November 2022: See Candidates' Stance on Cite and Release

From the Bexar County District Attorney Debate hosted by Texas Public Radio’s The Source:

Question from a caller: Why does Marc LaHood sell the catch and release program as it's up to Joe Gonzales, when it's actually up to the judge that's taking on the case, to acknowledge that these people that are getting charged with crimes are allowed to participate in the catch and release program and complete the program? 

Marc LaHood: "Okay, Marianne, thank you. So, with regards to cite and release, my issue, my focus, what, I believe, is the most efficient, is we always have to have accountability. I don't think things change from our children, to adults, to businesses, to relationships. Actions have to have consequences. If we take away the consequences, our behavior doesn't get better, it gets worse. If we take away accountability, our behavior doesn't get better, it doesn't get worse. So, we help we have to focus on holding people accountable. And again, it then comes back to a fact by fact, case by case, history by history situation, right? Because when people say, Oh, well, we're just marijuana, or it was just X, Y and Z. Well, what was the history? What was the underlying facts that are tied to it? What steps, proactive steps, are they taking to better themselves? All those are real-world pragmatic issues that we have to analyze. I'm against any blanket policy without looking at the facts and the history of that specific person and that specific case."

Joe Gonzales: "Right, and, you know, that's a real misnomer, calling a catch and release. That implies that they are arrested, they're brought to us, and then we released them. Those are decisions that are made out there, on the field, by law enforcement. They are making the decision not to arrest these individuals, and instead, cite them. The reason that it has been successful is because law enforcement is making that decision. It’s a law enforcement tool. If they didn't think it was successful, if they didn't think it was useful, they could stop it today. But they continue to use it, because they see the benefit of issuing the citation for that minor amount of marijuana, that joint in somebody's pocket, and instead, of spending an entire shift of processing them. So, that they could return back on duty. In addition to that, it has saved the county $4.7 million by doing that. We have now had 6,200 cases where officers have not arrested people, that they've issued citations, because they see the benefit in doing that, and I hope they continue to do that because it benefits all of us in this community."