Jump to content

Proposed Bill Would Speed Up the Process of Bonding Out of Jail

Otto Mation

Recommended Posts


By Johnathan Silver, The Texas Tribune – Two state lawmakers hope their bill – and a constitutional amendment – will speed up the process of releasing jailed defendants who are considered unlikely to skip their court date or become safety risks.

The proposed legislation would require judges to use an automated, pretrial “risk-assessment” system to measure those risks before making bail decisions. The goal is to allow more poor, non-violent and low-level offenders to be released on a personal recognizance bond — which doesn’t require paying bail.

Senate Bill 1338 also would mandate that judges and magistrates make their release decisions within 48 hours of a defendant’s arrest. It would be the district attorney’s responsibility to ensure that happens, said bill author Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat and the Senate Criminal Justice Committee chairman.

“We’re doing away with bail being part of the punishment,” Whitmire said. “You should not be held in jail ’cause you can’t afford to get out. You sure as hell shouldn’t plead guilty to something you didn’t do, and I don’t want families to have to continue to get payday lender loans or car title loans to get someone out.”

Bail bond reform is arguably receiving the most attention it’s ever had in a legislative session, with numerous bills under consideration this year and high-profile support. More research on the issue has helped raise awareness, said Dottie Carmichael, research scientist with the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University.

“On the one hand, we’re understanding the downside of unnecessary detention, and on the other side there are more and more studies showing the effectiveness of risk-based release practices,” she said. “And so there’s a better way available to deal with those problems.”

The bill also would require that when judges deny bail for a defendant, they have “clear and convincing evidence” that a defendant is a public safety risk or is unlikely to show up for a court date.

In theory, judges should weigh those factors before deciding whether to grant bail, but they don’t always do so, said Whitmire, who’s teamed up with Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, to carry an identical House version of the bill.

The system benefits criminals who have money, Whitmire said.

“They’ve got resources, they post bond and go back to practicing their criminal business,” he said. “So there’s no risk assessment or no public safety factor in the issuing of a financial bond.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at  https://www.texastribune.org/2017/03/20/texas-bill-would-speed-process-bonding-out-jail/

The post Proposed Bill Would Speed Up the Process of Bonding Out of Jail appeared first on Covering Katy News.

View the full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...