bail reform | KERA News

bail reform

A national nonprofit says Texas’ system for putting holds on driver licenses is unconstitutional and is threatening to take the state to court as lawmakers decide the program's future this legislative session.

Bail bondsmen are opposing state legislation that would overhaul Texas' bail laws.
ROY LUCK / FLICKR

Most people in Texas jails are legally innocent. They’ve been arrested but are awaiting trial. They haven’t been convicted of a crime.

Advocates across the political spectrum say that’s because whether a defendant is stuck in jail before trial depends way too much on how wealthy they happen to be, and lawmakers have introduced bills to overhaul the state’s bail laws.

Robert Hart for The Texas Tribune

Taking a cue from the rulings on Harris County’s bail-setting practices, a U.S. district judge in Dallas issued a temporary order Thursday evening saying the county’s post-arrest procedures routinely violate inmates’ constitutional rights. The judge gave the county 30 days to change its ways.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

WACO — Gov. Greg Abbott wants the Texas Legislature to pass a bail reform law next year.

On Tuesday, the Republican governor announced his proposed Damon Allen Act, named in honor of a 41-year-old highway patrol trooper who was gunned down last Thanksgiving during a traffic stop near Fairfield, about 60 miles east of Waco. The suspect, 33-year-old Dabrett Black, was out of jail on a $15,500 bond at the time after allegedly assaulting a Smith County deputy.

Governor Greg Abbott has his sights set on bail reform during the upcoming legislative session.

Abbott held a news conference Tuesday at the Texas Department of Public Safety in Waco to propose the Damon Allen Act, named for a state trooper who was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop in 2017.