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bail reform
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Texas GOP Legislators Pushing for Bail System Based on Severity of Crimes

Harris County implemented major bail reforms after federal courts held unconstitutional the common practice of requiring preset cash bail amounts without accounting for a defendant’s personal circumstances. However, Republican lawmakers are now trying to counter these reforms, pushing for legislation that would link bail determinations to the severity of the alleged crimes. As a result Read More

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Current Legislative Efforts Would Walk Back Texas Bail Reforms

Despite the documented success of misdemeanor bail reforms that have been implemented in Harris County, Texas legislators and the state’s governor are pushing for measures that would make it harder for many defendants to secure release pending trial. Governor Greg Abbott has declared the need for bail practice changes an emergency item for this legislative Read More

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Harris County to Report on Crimes by Defendants Released on Bail

The Harris County Commissioners Court has voted to allow the Justice Administration Department (JAD) to share non-confidential information about defendants released on bail. The JAD will report on the number of defendants since January 2018 charged with a subsequent felony or misdemeanor offense while out on any type of pretrial release. This information will be Read More

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Public Research Group Studies Effect of Assistance of Counsel at Bail Hearings

Researchers have made Potter County, Texas one of the first court systems in the United States to actively test the effect of the presence of defense counsel at bail hearings. The Public Policy Research Institute (PPRI) at Texas A&M University is conducting a year-long study at the Potter County Detention Center, testing whether defendants charged Read More

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Lawsuit Challenging Harris County Felony Bail System Can Proceed to Trial

A federal judge has decided that a lawsuit challenging the Harris County felony bail system should continue to trial. The federal class action was brought by the same legal team that successfully challenged the county’s misdemeanor bail practices last year, resulting in a settlement that allows most defendants facing misdemeanor charges to be released without Read More

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Pressure Grows to Shrink Jail Populations Due to COVID-19 Infections

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is facing renewed calls to shrink jail populations to help people avoid possibly contracting COVID-19 as the state has become the nation’s biggest virus hotbed. By the end of June, more than 8,200 inmates in the Texas prison system had tested positive for COVID-19 and 79 prisoners had died of the Read More

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Texas Bail Reform Seeks to Balance Public Safety and Defendants’ Rights

In Texas as elsewhere, bail allows criminal defendants to be released pending trial, under penalty of forfeiting their bail bonds if they fail to appear. Bail decisions are based upon the seriousness of the criminal charges and on the defendant’s criminal record, risk of flight and danger to the community. But in actual practice, bail Read More

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Texas Bail Reform Litigation Highlights the Need for Counsel Immediately Upon Arrest

Miranda warnings have been a thorn in the side of prosecutors since the 1963 landmark Supreme Court ruling made denial of the right to counsel a ground for voiding a confession. But while a defendant may demand to have a lawyer present during questioning, there is no explicit right to representation at another critical stage Read More

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Texas Bail Reform Legislation Falls Short, But System Improvements Are Underway

More than two years after federal courts ruled cash bail systems in Dallas and Harris counties unconstitutional, the Texas legislature has been unable to pass bail reform legislation. In May 2019, the House passed a bill that would have implemented measures to make bail more available to poorer defendants. But the bill never made it Read More

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