Due to a supreme court ruling in June, inmates that couldn’t make bail and were awaiting trial that were in prison for misdemeanors were ordered to be released.
This case began in September 2016 when Harris County was charged with unfairly jailing citizens that couldn’t make bail.
“I’ve stated publicly that someone shouldn’t be in jail because they can’t afford bail,” Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said. “But there has to be some assessment of risk at some point in this process. I don’t think anybody wants somebody to keep driving drunk time after time until they kill some family somewhere. That’s an issue we have to come to grips with.”
Some officials believe this issue should be taken up at the state level rather than the city of Houston officials debating what should happen including Steve Radack, Harris Co. Precinct 3 Commissioner.
“This is a slap at every single Harris Co. criminal court judge,” Radack said. “Basically, it doesn’t matter how bad you are as long as you are charged with a misdemeanor and you say you can’t afford bail, you’re getting out regardless of how much violence you might cause.”
The most recent development happened Tuesday when the Harris County Commissioners Court met to discuss the release of these inmates with financial hardships.
Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht believes it is a matter of due process. Especially because of Hurricane Harvey, people have had to wait weeks for their hearing. Spending weeks in prison because of the lack of funds to front bail has led to a large outcry from Houstonians and people across Texas.
“Many who are arrested cannot afford a bail bond and remain in jail awaiting a hearing,” he said. “Though presumed innocent, they lose their jobs and families, and are more likely to reoffend.”
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