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Commissioners Court approves bail lawsuit settlement

Excellent.

Harris County Commissioners Court approved a historic settlement Tuesday fixing a bail system a federal judge found unconstitutional and ushering in a new era for criminal justice in one of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.

The deal resulted from months of intensive negotiations between the county and lawyers for indigent misdemeanor defendants who sued over a two-tiered system that jailed people prior to trial if they couldn’t pay up front cash bail but allowed people with similar backgrounds and charges to resume their lives and await trial at home.

“This was the result of careful negotiation,” County Judge Lina Hidalgo said just before the commissioner’s voted 3-2 to approve the deal.

The vote split along party lines. Commissioners Jack Cagle and Steve Radack, the only Republicans now on the the commissioners court, voted against it.

The settlement agreement — which still must be approved by a federal judge — installs a monitor to oversee the new bail protocol for seven years. It provides comprehensive public defense services and safeguards to help ensure defendants show up for court. It will allow about 85 percent of people arrested on misdemeanors to avoid pretrial detention. The settlement also calls for transparent data collection, which will allow the county to keep better track of what’s working and what isn’t.

You know the background, so see here for the previous update. I can only wonder what would have happened in a world where Democrats swept the judicial races but failed to win those two seats on Commissioners Court. I feel pretty confident saying that as of July 30 in that alternate universe, there would not be an agreement in place. Elections, they do have consequences. Congratulations one and all for getting this done.

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15 Comments

  1. Paul Kubosh says:

    What a mess. Congratulations all and to all the victims of the people who commit crimes while out on bail. No consequences no responsibility.

  2. Ross says:

    So, Paul, is your solution to just lock everyone up with no bail? Do you really think it was reasonable to keep people locked up when there was no way they could pay the bail set by schedule? Do you think it is better to keep 1,000 people sitting in jail to prevent one crime? Do you have a better plan?

  3. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    Paul,

    Whats the difference between someone who commits a crime while out on ‘no cash’ bail and someone who commits a crime while out on bail after paying a bail bondsman? I dont really see any difference other than the payment to the bail bondsman.

    This isnt the end of bail conditions.

  4. C.L. says:

    Paul, spoken like a true man who has a family member making a living collecting bail money…

  5. Bill_Daniels says:

    From Dec., 2017:

    https://www.click2houston.com/news/repeat-offenders-not-showing-up-for-court-dates-after-posting-bond

    Maybe somebody has the current statistics?

    It seems like this would be pretty easy to track. Compare the recidivism rate of those out on paid bond as opposed to those out with no bond.

  6. Paul Kubosh says:

    You guys are all In Progressive la la Land. You won and elections have consequences. Hasn’t changed the facts that I am right. You guys just like to live this way.

  7. C.L. says:

    Progressive La La Land ? This wasn’t about an election, it was about a practice that was found to be unconstitutional. Good grief – you’re a lawyer, FFS (with a less than 2 star Yelp rating).

    On this issue, I’m with Bill – let’s see a chart of recidivism rates for those out on paid bond vs. those w/no bond. Put up or shut up.

  8. Manny says:

    I like the word progressive much more than the typical socialist. It was progressives that gave up Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, only one party has been the party of caring for the health of Americans.

  9. Paul Kubosh says:

    Blah blah blah….why do you think the legislature didn’t pass Whitmire’s crap. They saw the data. Like I said you guys are in progressive lala land probably getting stoned longing for the legalization of marijuana. Own it…you know I am right and while you are at don’t forget to kneel for the flag.

  10. Bill_Daniels says:

    According to this, almost half of no bail defendants failed to show up for their court hearings. No mention of recidivism, and no mention of the percentage of people who actually PAID bail who were no shows.

    https://www.harriscountycao.org/news/2018/6/6/kprc-reports-on-bail-bond-case

  11. Manny says:

    The legislature, especially the fascist right are run by the lobbyists, bail bondsmen/women give a lot of money.

  12. Steve Houston says:

    Bill, you might remember that little storm called Hurricane Harvey flooding out the courthouse. As a results, courts were spread throughout the area and it was shown that defendants and their lawyers were often given wrong court dates, sent to the wrong locations, and all the other factors that contributed to those numbers. There are always those with an agenda willing to take such numbers out of context as it suits them, not just those that personally profit in a monetary manner but I’m sure you know that.

    I do admit to laughing a bit at the suggestion we’re all a bunch of stoners getting high but I too would like to hear suggestions by those who adamantly support unconstitutional practices and remain silent when it is pointed out that we lack the space to house suspected misdemeanor criminals while they wait for their trial. If preferring violent, repeat offender felons be housed before we waste precious space on suspected bad check writers or those who steal a few hundred bucks in groceries is someone’s definition of “progressive”, I’ll admit I must have missed the meeting where everyone agreed on the terminology.

  13. Bill Daniels says:

    Steve,

    I picture Paul being a little like the real life Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High….STILL convinced all the kids are on drugs.

    As to the no show rate, I agree Harvey would skew the numbers, but still what I think all of us want to know is, what’s the rearrest rate for those who paid bond vs. those who didn’t. That’s the million dollar stat, and I couldn’t find it with my Duck Duck Go-fu.

    I was hoping our fearless leader, Kuff, could find that info. He’s a machine when it comes to getting information, which is why we all like his site.

  14. C.L. says:

    Paul, I’m puffing on a big phat one right now. Grew my own doobage in that little strip of grass right in front of the building at 1619 Lubbock. Know where I’m talking about ? Look out the window – see me waving ? Come join me, it appears you need an ‘adjustment’.

  15. Bill Daniels says:

    I’m laughing. Flag on the play, C.L. 15 yard penalty for taunting, repeat down!