Bail Reform

shutterstock_304682639.jpg

In the United States, the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty. In Harris County, however, over 70% of the inmates in the county jail are there because they could not post bond to secure their appearance in court.  Worse yet, the Harris County District Attorney and Judges utilize a bond schedule that is now the subject of a multi-million dollar lawsuit because it is unconstitutional.  Yet, Harris County judges refuse to use pre-trial bonds in all but 5% of the criminal cases filed by the DA, causing the other 95% of those jailed in Harris County to hire bail bondsmen.  These same bail bondsmen, in turn, support the current District Attorney and incumbent judges through tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.  The result is that for many, an arrest leads to a plea of guilt, and then a conviction— so that they can get out of jail.   During the past decade, the Harris County Jail itself has garnered one of the worst reputations in the nations, having been responsible for more than 200 prisoner deaths.  In one recent case, a young Houstonian accused of stealing a guitar was arrested, charged and unable to make bail.  While jailed, he was beaten to death by other inmates.  Medical treatment is often denied, and the detention guards have a reputation for rough treatment.

Kim Ogg supports bail reform at every level and has publicly stated that she favors supporting the recommendations of Pre-Trial Services, a multi-million dollar stand alone agency whose risk assessments of prisoners has long been ignored by the District Attorney.  Ogg has said she would reverse the current administration’s policy of opposing all pre-trial bonds in every case, and where no evidence of flight risk exists, will instruct prosecutors to use their discretion and agree to pre-trial bonds when they believe them appropriate.

The policy proposal follows Ogg’s general goal of keeping non-violent offenders who pose no public safety threat in the workforce while awaiting case finality. She believes the current bail system has created an unjust ‘plea mill’, and has now become a tool to oppress the poor.


Showing 4 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • commented 2017-02-20 22:20:43 -0600
    Last month on January 24th, Ana Weed was executed by her next-door neighbor Hector Campos while kneeling in her front yard trying to keep hector from kicking her dog when Hector ran into his house, grabbed a 9mm, came back outside and shot her through the heart at point blank range. Ana was still wearing a neck brace from the spinal fusion surgery in her neck she had recently and the bullet passed through the bottom of the collar. Ana died within minutes in her husband’s arms. Hector Campos stood nearby her while she was dying and called his attorney instead of calling 911 and talked to his attorney the whole time. This was a premeditated murder and an act of revenge because Ana helped Hectors now estranged wife to escape from an abusive relationship.

    To add insult to injury, the Harris County District Attorney intervened in this case and lowered Hectors bond to the minimum allowed under the law to $50,000 and he was back on the streets 12 hours after putting a bullet through Ana’s heart. The recommended bail was $350,000 and would have kept this dangerous man behind bars. The trial has been scheduled for November 2017 and Hector is walking our streets till then. Much of Ana’s family still live in the same neighborhood and Scott still live next-door to Hector. The entire family is living in fear of Hector now.

    Ana and Scott were together for 25 years and Ana just missed the birth of their 3rd grandchild last week.

    Ana was my cousin, and we demand justice for her, please reconsider Hector Campos bail and raise it to the maximum. We cannot have a murderer loose on the streets where he can kill again. Which you will be able to hear him in a favorite tv show where he says he would do it again if he had to.
  • commented 2017-02-01 17:58:36 -0600
    My concern is the incompetent inmate with brain damage. Who has no knowledge nor understanding of the Law. The problem is Parole Board. The court will dismiss the case but the final decision is in the Parole hands.
  • commented 2017-02-01 13:01:48 -0600
    The problem is at the bail setting / probable cause hearing. The magistrate on the TV does not allow any testimony. Also, there is no counselor present for the defendant to argue lower bail, only the prosecutor who reads the charges.

    “Pre-Trial Services” takes place after the probable cause hearing again without an attorney present. You can give all the “correct” answers and still receive no benefit.
  • commented 2016-11-15 08:39:00 -0600
    The bail system is unjust and the Parole Board is unjust by putting holds and blue warrants on inmates bond. We must take a look at the Criminal Justice System as a whole all areas. What about the mentally ill? When bond is denied. Take a visit to Harris County infirmary.