Bailing Out: Bond Reform Proves Disastrous in Harris County

Houston has seen a surge in crime over the past couple of years, and much of it can be attributed to the bond reform movement that took hold after Democrats swept all county offices in 2018. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg recently testified before the state legislature that the number of crimes committed by people while out on bond tripled from around 6,000 on 2015 to around 18,000 in 2020.

Ogg's testimony came in support of Senate Bill 21, filed by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), which would tighten up the Texas bail system and eliminate some of the reforms that have led to the problem. Even Democrats like Ogg and now-former Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo have directly blamed the rise in violent crime on bail reforms that release dangerous criminals onto the streets.

These bond reforms were sold to the public as only applying to non-violent offenders, but the result has been a revolving door for all types of criminals. Ken W. Good, Texas bail attorney and board member of the Professional Bondsmen of Texas, says the problem started with Harris County leaders settling a lawsuit brought by anti-bail activists. "Harris County isn't even following Texas law currently, everything is going crazy there, and they're like that's what the law, that's what your settlement---where you changed Texas law---requires," he says.

Good tells the Michael Berry Show that the current rules under that settlement allow criminals to be released without regard to risk assessment. "You get a hundred dollar bond, no matter how many times you commit that one crime, as long as it's on a certain list, you get another hundred dollar bond," he says.

The result is not only a surge in crime, but a massive backlog in the courts. "It doesn't matter if it's only a misdemeanor...if you release a misdemeanor person seven, eight, ten times, and not ever hold them accountable for failing to appear, that's part of the problem," says Good.

"What they're trying in Harris County is what they tried in New York. It didn't work there and they repealed it, but they're not doing that in Harris County," says Good. "And that's the problem, that they won't admit failure."

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