HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - The Harris County Bail Board has announced they have passed a motion requiring bail bond companies to require a minimum 10% of a defendant's bond amount for certain violent crimes.
The vote was six in favor, three abstentions, and two against.
According to the motion, people accused of one of 17 violent crimes would have to pay a minimum 10% of their bond.
These are just some of the crimes where it would apply: murder, capital murder, attempted murder, aggravated kidnapping, trafficking of persons, continuing trafficking of person, continuous sexual assault of a child or disabled individual, indecency with a child, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, family violence, aggravated robbery, sexual act with a child, and organized crime that includes violence.
Last month, a motion to require the 10% bond failed.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the following on social media after the motion was approved:
"I’m heartened a majority of Bail Bond Board members joined me in voting for a 10% bond requirement to end "cheap bail" for serious crimes. It’s one step of many we’re taking to tackle the gun violence epidemic. Grateful to so many families of victims who pushed for this."
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner released the following statement after the motion was passed:
"This afternoon, I am pleased the Harris County Bail Bond Board approved a proposal to require bonding companies to collect a minimum of 10 percent of bail set by judges for suspects before they are released on bond. The City of Houston's representative on the board asked for this item to be placed back on the agenda after it failed to receive enough votes last month.
On February 2nd, I announced the One Safe Houston plan – a comprehensive initiative that holistically addresses crime prevention. Part of that plan called for bond reform, specifically to make the 10% down payment a requirement on bail bond premiums.
In March, I wrote a letter to the Harris County Bail Bond Board urging members to adopt this policy.
I'm very gratified to see the Harris County Bail Bond Board adopt this policy today. When judges set high bonds for violent offenses, bail bond companies should not waive or reduce premiums, thus jeopardizing public safety.
I'm grateful to the advocates, victim families especially, who pushed for this reform, including many elected officials.
Earlier today, the Houston city council considered a similar ordinance, and the vote was delayed until next week, pending the Board's vote. With today's vote by the Harris County Bail Bond Board, it will be unnecessary for the City to move forward."
Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia also reacted to the motion, saying,
"We have a min 10% bail requirement for violent crimes! Thank you to Paul Castro and the families of victims of violence, who inspired us to determine that violent offenders were being released for pennies in spite of getting a high bond. Other Texas counties are sure to follow!"
The item will take effect after 10 days. However, officials expect lawsuits to be filed by the bail bonding industry.