Tag Archives: jails

HART trouble

Not great. Harris County paused its Holistic Assistance Response Teams on Wednesday after Commissioners Court failed to reach an agreement on whether to pay the vendor operating the program. At issue is a $270,000 payment to Disaster Emergency Medical Assistance … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New criminal courts coming online

Good. Three new felony courts with a $9.2 million budget are expected to open next week, in what officials say is the final stretch in tackling a backlog of criminal cases that have piled up over the past six years. … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment, Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Expanding HART

Good to see. More of Harris County’s 911 calls will be diverted to a mental health crisis team instead of law enforcement officers after a year-long pilot program in a handful of neighborhoods handled thousands of non-violent incidents. Since March … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Expanding HART

Spending even more on court-appointed attorneys

But maybe there’s an end in sight. Harris County is on track to pay $95 million by the end of October to private attorneys for representing low-income people accused of crimes — about $35 million more than the county budgeted … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment, Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Harris County felony bail bond lawsuit ruling coming

Definitely something to look forward to. Lawyers on both sides of a lawsuit accusing Harris County of unfair bail practices that unjustly imprison lower-income inmates are pressing for a swift resolution, and a judge says a ruling in the four-year … Continue reading

Posted in Legal matters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The last thing we need is more people in the jail

This is a rare place where Democrats have leverage. Make good use of it. With an eye on Harris County, Texas lawmakers are considering new measures aimed at keeping more defendants accused of violent and sexual crimes behind bars as … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment, That's our Lege | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The last thing we need is more people in the jail

More evidence of misdemeanor bail reform’s success

Lower costs, fewer wrongful incarcerations and guilty pleas, less recidivism. What more do you want? Fewer misdemeanor defendants went on to commit crimes in Harris County after federal litigation in 2017 aimed at curtailing the jailing of low-income people charged … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on More evidence of misdemeanor bail reform’s success

Harris County ponders a bond election

First one in awhile. Harris County leaders will begin discussions Tuesday about whether to add a bond election to the November ballot. The bond would be a hybrid measure to raise money for roads, parks, flood control, and public safety. … Continue reading

Posted in Election 2022, Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We don’t really need more prosecutors on the bench

Ugh. On a winter afternoon nine months into the pandemic, Harris County district attorney Kim Ogg held a Zoom meeting with felony judges and prosecutors to discuss the backlog of cases caused by COVID-19 shutdowns at the downtown Houston courthouse. … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment, Election 2022 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

The “prison gerrymandering” lawsuit

Of the many lawsuits filed so far over Texas redistricting, this is the one I know the least about. Nearly a quarter of a million people were incarcerated in Texas when the Census was taken last year. When lawmakers redrew … Continue reading

Posted in Legal matters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A long story about the bail industry

It’s complicated. Judges set bail, but it’s the bondsmen who decide how much a defendant pays to get out of jail. The long-held 10 percent standard — with defendants or their loved ones paying a tenth of the bail amount … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The bail bill and the quorum

Now that there’s a quorum (or a “quorum”, if you prefer) in the State House again, bills other than the voter suppression bill are getting hearings and will be moved forward for votes. Nearly all of them are terrible, and … Continue reading

Posted in That's our Lege | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bad bail bill 2.0

This was also happening over the weekend. Days into a short legislative session, Texas lawmakers are moving quickly to pass a GOP priority bill that would make it harder for some people who have been arrested but not convicted to … Continue reading

Posted in That's our Lege | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

It’s just the next GoFundMe for “border security”, with more grifting and human rights abuses

Have I made my opinion sufficiently clear, or do I need to spell it out for you? Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday said Texas will spend $250 million to begin building a wall along the Mexico border, picking up … Continue reading

Posted in La Migra | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Republican bail reform bill passes House

Meh. The Texas House on Tuesday passed a bill to alter the way criminal defendants can be released from jail before trial. The priority legislation would, in part, require judicial officers to use a risk assessment tool when making bail … Continue reading

Posted in That's our Lege | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sheriff Gonzalez nominated to lead ICE

Wow. President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he will nominate Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, a vocal skeptic of cooperating with federal immigration authorities in certain circumstances, to serve as director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As head of … Continue reading

Posted in La Migra, Local politics, National news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Republicans take aim at bail reform

Lots of bad ideas in here. Members of the Texas Senate Committee on Jurisprudence held their first hearing this week over Senate Bill 21, a controversial bail reform bill backed by Republicans. The purpose of the bill according to its … Continue reading

Posted in That's our Lege | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

A poll about jailing people

Of interest. New polling from The Appeal and Data for Progress shows that most Harris County residents support bail reform measures and want fewer people in the county’s overcrowded jail amid the COVID-19 pandemic The polling shows 59 percent of … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

District court judges to be removed from the felony bail lawsuit case

Hopefully, this brings us a step closer to settling the case. Harris County’s 23 felony judges are no longer being sued over uneven bail practices that plaintiffs say discriminate against poor defendants. The civil rights lawsuit against the county and … Continue reading

Posted in Legal matters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Bail reform plaintiffs want Paxton booted from case

I for one am a fan of kicking out Ken Paxton in any context. In a strategic move that could speed up their case against Harris County, the plaintiffs challenging felony bail practices are hoping to kick two dozen players … Continue reading

Posted in Legal matters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Sheriff Gonzalez hires jail administrator

Interesting. A former state jail inspector will oversee Harris County’s jail, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez announced Wednesday. Shannon Herklotz, who worked for the Texas Commision on Jail Standards for more than 20 years, began serving as the jail’s chief of detentions … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why can’t we get our jail population down?

I found this story from Thanksgiving weekend frustrating. Harris County’s efforts to reduce its jail population have flatlined, despite more than $7.5 million aimed at alleviating systemic burdens so that the county could attempt to reduce its inmates by a … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Felony bail reform lawsuit moves forward

Pending the next appeal, anyway. A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the case challenging Harris County’s felony bail system should proceed to trial. Nineteen felony judges represented by state Attorney General Ken Paxton immediately gave notice they planned to appeal … Continue reading

Posted in Legal matters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

More on the motion to dismiss the felony bail lawsuit

Should get a ruling soon. The bulk of Harris County’s felony judges sought Monday to get the federal case against them dismissed, saying they should not be party to the challenge on how bail is determined for thousands of poor … Continue reading

Posted in Legal matters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yes, bail reform is good

Here’s the first pieces of evidence, from Harris County, to support that. A new report examining the impact of recent changes to bail practices in Harris County found that releasing more misdemeanor defendants from jail without requiring cash bail did … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Another example of why bail reform is needed

This is troubling in a lot of ways, but fortunately there is a path forward. Since November, eight defendants fresh out of jail on bond have walked into state District Judge Ramona Franklin’s court and been sent right back to … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Felony judges move to dismiss bail lawsuit

Of interest. A group of district judges in Houston on Thursday argued for dismissal of a lawsuit alleging their felony bail practices are unconstitutional because they discriminate against poor people, keeping them jailed when they can’t pay bail. Among the … Continue reading

Posted in Legal matters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Judges added to felony bail reform lawsuit

This could be a sign that things are about to happen. All 23 Harris County felony judges have been added as proposed defendants in the lawsuit alleging that the region’s felony bail practices are discriminatory and damaging to poor defendants. … Continue reading

Posted in Legal matters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Meanwhile, the jail is filling up again

We really need to do something about this. The Harris County Jail population has been steadily rising since late April and is now approaching its pre-pandemic capacity despite early efforts to curb crowding, according to the sheriff’s office. With an … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let’s fix the Sandra Bland Act

Let’s make it what it was supposed to have been in the first place. After Sandra Bland’s death in a rural Texas jail drew outrage across the nation, two Texas lawmakers filed a comprehensive bill to address racial profiling during … Continue reading

Posted in That's our Lege | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Let’s fix the Sandra Bland Act

DA dismisses charges against most protesters

Good. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday dismissed almost 800 cases filed against protesters arrested during the George Floyd demonstrations last week in Houston. In total, prosecutors dropped 796 charges filed against 654 protesters, District Attorney Kim Ogg … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Commissioners Court to address police reform

On the agenda for today. Ten police and criminal justice reform items appear on Tuesday’s agenda; seven by Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis, two by County Judge Lina Hidalgo and one by Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia. They would:  Examine … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

More reopening

It’s going great so far, right? Gov. Greg Abbott will allow hair salons in Texas to reopen Friday and gyms on May 18, moving more quickly than expected to further restart the Texas economy during the coronavirus pandemic. The businesses … Continue reading

Posted in The great state of Texas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

How about that other coronavirus hot spot?

You know, prisons? For more than fifty years, Palestine, Texas, has been known as a prison town. Most of the time, that hasn’t been a problem. True, it was a bit controversial in the 1960s when the Texas corrections department … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments