Harris County DA

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Since 2018, Crime Stoppers of Houston has been tracking the number of Harris County residents allegedly killed by defendants who were on multiple felony bonds, personal recognizance (PR) bonds, motion to revoke bond denied and bond forfeiture. While our list now includes 187+ people allegedly killed via our criterion, we are proud to report that there has been a 52.6% decrease in the number of Harris County residents allegedly killed by defendants on multiple felony bonds et al from 2021 to 2022. This significant decrease successfully correlates to the work of all those within the criminal justice system, as well as with the implementation of SB6, “The Damon Allen Act” which was enacted in December 2021.*The new law prohibits defendants charged with certain violent crimes from receiving a personal recognizance (PR) bonds). Additionally, we have seen increased cash bonds being awarded by Harris County Felony District Court Judges to defendants allegedly engaging in violent offenses as cited by the Harris County SAFE HARRIS Division bail bond dashboard (Page 11 & 12). For example, in 2021 there were 587 homicide cases filed in Harris County and 356 felony bonds granted for those homicide cases. However, in 2022 there were 617 homicide cases filed in Harris County but only 183 felony bonds granted for those homicide cases. This is a 49% decrease in the number of bonds granted to defendants alleged of homicide in 2022 compared to 2021.

While these are huge wins for public safety in Harris County, there is much more to be done this legislative session. Harris County is still experiencing a large criminal case backlog of cases needing to be disposed. Crime Stoppers supports State Representative Ann Johnson’s recently filed bill, HB 130, which would add six additional courts to Harris County to help with the case backlog. State Representative Johnson has also filed another bill, HB 227, that would adopt a 10% minimum bond amount statewide which is already in effect in Harris County. We fully support this bill as well, as it would provide further oversight of the bail bond industry. While we see problems with the current cash bond system that must be addressed and astutely follow studies which show it inequitable, no solution should include a reduction in public safety. In fact, we believe public safety should be prioritized when deciding whether or not a defendant should be able to post cash bail and that a comprehensive risk assessment should be performed. With this in mind, we also support State Senator Joan Huffman’s proposed Constitutional Amendment (https://senate.texas.gov/members/d17/press/en/p20230213b.pdf), SJR 44.

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