Harris County Bail Bondsman Practice Emphasized at Texas Senate Hearing

On September 20, last year, 46-year-old Patrick Aikens was shot dead in an apartment in Houston and released for at least six felony charges.

Suspect, Diarian CarawayWas sentenced to two felony charges in Fort Bend County in 2019 and four more in Harris County in 2020. At the time of the Akens murder, Caraway reportedly wore an ankle monitor as a condition of bond.

Aikens’ sister Teresa wept in front of the State Senate Committee on Thursday in support of a law submitted by State Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) trying to address the issue of repeated violent criminals released on public debt. Testified to.

“How can a judge forgive this? Why was he not put in jail the first, second, or third time, even though he broke the conditions of his bond? Is it? “Teresa asked.

She explained that Caraway is currently in prison, but the same judge will soon consider requesting a deposit for his previous crime.

“I don’t believe this judge will make the right decision. I’m very worried he’ll be back in court. Unless this violent criminal is allowed to leave prison. , I’m sure my brother is still alive today. “

Submitted by Huffman Senate Bill (SB) 21 Primarily in response to growing concerns that Harris County criminal court judges and security judges will issue multiple bonds to suspects with a history of violent criminal offenses.

“We have seen an increase in violent and habitual criminals released on personal public relations (PR) bonds, which is a direct threat to the public safety of all communities, low cash bonds. With. “

Huffman said many bail decisions are made in closed rooms and the state-wide process requires consistency and transparency.

However, in submitting the bill, she explained that the text currently being submitted acts as a mere draft and plans to provide an alternative version following the views of witnesses and the Commission. did.

Commission Vice-Chair Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen) has expressed concern about continuing to imprison poor suspects if he cannot afford bail, saying he is reluctant to judge micromanagement. Stated. He said gangsters and cartel members could afford bail for violent crimes, but poor suspects could not.

Huffman said he wanted to give the judge discretion, but at the same time asked for a separate assessment of whether the suspect should be released. She also said that the state constitution guarantees the rights to public debt, and that changing the law to completely reject public debt would require the passage of a constitutional amendment.

Democratic Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg testified and presented detailed information about suspects on public bonds, increased repeat offenses, and the county’s prison population, with 7,312 suspects on two to four public bonds. He said there were an additional 555 suspects. With 5-7 bonds at the end of 2020, 74 suspects are suspected with 8 or more consecutive bonds.

Ogg presented a graphic showing that 3,200 suspects were charged with 6,348 new crimes in debt in 2015, but by 2020, 10,500 after the county’s debt policy changed. A suspect has been charged with 18,796 new crimes.

Graphic provided to the committee by Harris County District Attorney

Local prosecutors often claim higher or no debt on behalf of the state, but Ogg said security judges sometimes set up debt and released suspects without the prosecutor’s opinion. ..

She also said there were 22 criminal courts in the county, but judges had only had five jury trials in the past year.

In response to a question from Huffman about the county’s nearly largest prison population, Ogg said that mainly violent suspects were detained and law enforcement agencies stopped arresting low-level drug possessions in 2017. Revealed.

“No one in Harris County has been jointly imprisoned,” Ogg said.

Ogg points out that the number of individual murders, rapes, assaults and robbers is increasing, and her concern is to set up bonds “again and again for consecutive violent criminals.” I explained that there is.

“We need a hard stop,” Ogg said. “So I support the spirit of Senate Bill 21.”

Many witnesses testified in support of seeking a legislative solution to the problem, but warned that the current version of the bill needed improvement.

Jennifer Sirp, a district attorney for the Comal County Criminal District, called on judges and security judges to access the suspect’s criminal history and history of ties. A Texas Public Safety Agency official said state-wide databases are available, but judges need to attend about eight hours of training before they can access the tools.

Hinosho frequently argued that Harris County judges and security judges only needed better training to determine if the suspect could be safely released.

Conversely, La Quita Garcia, policy coordinator for the Texas Organizing Project, explained how she was imprisoned for a year before she was finally released for her innocence.

“This bill not only brings back the clock of people’s rights, but also makes our community feel safer and only exacerbates the racist mass imprisonment problem in our country. Bring us back in an era of “harsh” approaches. “

Colin Seplan of the Harris County Judiciary Administration testified that the Huffman bill would put an affordable burden on the county, overwhelming prisons and “weakening the local initiatives that have protected Harris County’s security.”

Former Republican Harris County Judge Mike Fields also opposed SB 21, with 93% of the 72 suspects allegedly committing murder while on debt in 2020 paying something. He said he was on the required deposit.

“Money doesn’t make us safer,” Fields said.

Guarantee bonds, which typically require the defendant to post about 10% of the total bail required, can range from $ 100 to anywhere.In some cases, even murder suspects $ 25,000 bond..

The committee did not act on the basis of SB21, but plans to adopt an alternative version in the future.

Harris County Bail Bondsman Practice Emphasized at Texas Senate Hearing

Source link Harris County Bail Bondsman Practice Emphasized at Texas Senate Hearing

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