HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Harris County commissioners approved a bail reform settlement on Tuesday.
People who have been pushing for these reforms say people who can’t afford to pay bail aren’t getting the same treatment as the people who can afford bail. A judge agreed, and this latest measure would fix that disparity.
In 2017, District Judge Lee Rosenthal ruled the county's bail system was unconstitutional because low level, non-violent offenders who couldn't afford bail were stuck in jail, while violent offenders with more money could get out.
Last week, a settlement was reached in a lawsuit tied to bail reform. The settlement changes bail rules. It would allow about 85 percent of people arrested on misdemeanors to be released without bail, before trial. It would also provide more public defender services and resources for the defendants.
People arrested for violating court orders in family violence cases, certain assault cases, and misdemeanor DWI would still have to face a judge and may be held on bail.
Opponents feel the reform will be put the community at risk.
On Tuesday, the Commissioner’s Court approved the settlement agreement.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo wrote on Twitter, "History. Made. Commissioners Court just approved the settlement that’ll bring historic bail reform to Harris County. Other counties/municipalities take note. This is what building a fair, effective criminal justice system looks like. Proud day!"
History.— Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo (@JudgeHidalgo) July 30, 2019
Commissioners Court just approved the settlement that’ll bring historic bail reform to Harris County.
Other counties/municipalities take note ✒️🗒️
This is what building a fair, effective criminal justice system looks like.