Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced today that recent initiatives by her office have helped lead to a 21% reduction in the criminal case backlog from the COVID-related highs of recent years. As of April 10 – the 100th day of 2023 – the backlog has been cut to 114,242 cases, a reduction of nearly 31,000 from 2021. And the figure continues to fall.
The numbers show the office’s aggressive focus on reducing the case backlog has paid off. Ogg credited her staff for that success and specifically pointed out two recent initiatives that spurred major backlog reductions – the creation of a Homicide Division within the office and the implementation of a “triage” program.
Ogg created the Homicide Division in 2022, assigning 12 veteran prosecutors to a unit dedicated to trying languishing homicide cases. The team has aggressively pushed some of the most violent offenders’ cases to plea or trial. Some had been pending for more than four years, worsened by the pandemic and closure of the Criminal Justice Center following Hurricane Harvey.
In addition, Ogg and her senior leadership secured the funding to create an overtime program in which prosecutors meet after hours and on weekends to review more than 30,000 nonviolent, mostly victimless misdemeanor and state jail felony cases. Those cases are then considered for solutions other than incarceration.
“This backlog reduction is a welcome reward for our unending focus and hard work on resolving these cases,” Ogg said. “Most importantly, these successes lead to more victims getting resolution of their cases – and getting that resolution more quickly. And that’s the best reward of all.”