Sagemont to host Make it Right!
County event to forgive low-level criminal offenses
Residents with minor criminal offenses in Harris County Precincts 2 and 8 will have an opportunity to clear them at an event hosted by Sagemont Church, located at 11300 S. Sam Houston Parkway E., Saturday, Aug. 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Spearheaded by Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, Make It Right! is designed to help members of the community who have unresolved warrants for low-level, nonviolent misdemeanor charges. The goal of the program is to provide these individuals with an opportunity to “make it right” for themselves by getting their outstanding warrants removed and their pending cases resolved in a nontraditional and nonconfrontational manner, with no financial cost and no risk of arrest.
“We want people to know this isn’t a trick,” Anderson said. “No one will be arrested. We won’t even have the ability to run criminal histories, just J.P. (justice of the peace) Class C records. It’s not a ‘gotcha’ thing.”
For those with outstanding Class C warrants or other pending charges in Harris County Precincts 2 and/or 8, this one-day event will provide a unique opportunity to clear them in a favorable environment, without having to go to court.
“We hope to help hundreds of Houstonians with open and pending Class C warrants in Precincts 2 and 8 by clearing outstanding warrants from their records,” Anderson said. “Open warrants can weigh heavily on those who carry them due to the constant risk of arrest following a police encounter.”
In lieu of paying fines or restitution, participating offenders will be required to watch a 30-minute video and pass a subsequent test. Videos and tests will be available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
While warrants for felony or Class A and Class B misdemeanor charges cannot be resolved at Make It Right!, attorneys from the Harris County Public Defender’s Office will be present to offer free legal advice in an effort to help resolve those cases.
In addition to offering participants support as they navigate the process of resolving their warrants, Make It Right! will offer a resource fair with job training and educational opportunities, as well as legal referral services.
“This is a community outreach program,” Anderson said. “People often think of us as the bad guys, but we do a lot of good in the community, and this is one of our best events.”
Open and pending warrants from Harris County Precincts 2 and 8 can be resolved at this event, regardless of where an individual lives or their immigration status.
There will be interpreters available on-site to assist Spanish speakers. Those wishing to clear open warrants must bring a photo ID, but it is not necessary to bring the original warrant.
For information and qualifying offenses, call 713-274-0490 or visit www.jp.hctx.net.
Several city and county law enforcement officials visited with community members at the South Belt-Ellington Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, Aug. 23, to discuss the area’s growing homeless problem.
The number of transient people in the South Belt and Clear Lake communities has significantly increased in recent weeks, prompting an unprecedented number of complaints to the Leader.
While the homeless individuals can be found spread throughout the community, the largest concentration of them can be found under the overpasses along Beltway 8.
Residents complain their presence creates a safety hazard and lowers area property values.
Police officers at the chamber meeting said the homeless problem goes hand in hand with drug and alcohol abuse. Officers further noted the availability of the synthetic drug Kush at at least one area store likely contributes to the growing problem, as the cheap substance seems to be the drug of choice among many of the homeless.
“It’s become an epidemic,” one Houston police officer said.
One attendee said he saw a homeless female, presumably under the influence of drugs, urinating under the Sabo overpass in broad daylight while he was driving with his children.
In addition to substance abuse, officials said many of the homeless individuals also suffer from psychiatric problems.
One community member in attendance said he was once the landlord of one of the homeless females regularly seen at the Sabo overpass and that he had driven her more than 100 miles away to her parents’ house six or seven times, but the female, who suffers from drug addiction and psychiatric problems, always returns to the street.
While both the city and county offer services and facilities to house the homeless individuals, many of them reportedly opt to remain on the streets because shelters do not allow them to consume alcohol or use drugs.
Officers recommended not giving food or money directly to the homeless but to the shelters instead.
“Word has gotten out that the homeless can flourish (in the South Belt area),” one officer said.
Despite the availability of shelters in the city, officials said their funding has been cut, and one of the larger facilities is planning to shutter its doors.
The homeless problem is not limited to the South Belt community, as officials said the problem has now also spread into the Clear Lake area and other local suburbs.
A similar meeting on the issue was held by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office on the same day.
Chamber officials said they intend to work together with Clear Lake community leaders, as well as local law enforcement officials and local elected representatives to address the problem.
See future editions of the Leader for additional information.
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