HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - Bail reform is a big success here in Harris County. That’s what the Harris County Justice Administration Department claimed in its O’Donnell report released last February.
"They paint a very rosy picture on the success of bond reform and make it fairly obvious that the rising crime rates have nothing to do with bond reform," said Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers.
On the other hand, the District Attorneys Office makes no bones about it. Crime is up, ladies and gentlemen, and it’s associated with bail and that’s pretty much evident in 60 pages.
The DA’s office says it used the same data as the justice administration department and some of the findings are shocking.
In the report, D.A. Kim Ogg states, "re-offending by criminal defendants who have been released on bail is up. Bond forfeitures by criminal defendants are up, Violent offenses committed by defendants is up."
The report makes it clear. If bail reform is not changed, it will continue to be a driving factor in the crime spike here.
Get this. There’s a 50% increase in the overall bond failure rate. That means 50% of defendants freed from jail on bond either failed to show up for court or they committed new crimes. The recidivism rate or compulsion to reoffend has increased 500%.
The report even looked at how long it took for defendants to commit a new crime. Comparing 2015 to 2019 defendants within a year is up 95%. Defendants re-offending within 180 days is up 119%. Re-offending within 90 days is up a whopping 139%.
"It just basically proves everything Crime Stoppers has been yelling and screaming about and also everything we’ve been doing with Breaking Bond," Kahan said. "So many crimes are being committed by defendants who are out on bond after bond after bond and the numbers show it."
The Harris County Justice Department told us it had no response at this time. We called Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo for a response. We’ve yet to hear back.