HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - "Your Honors, if we listen to you all, we can all go home because you’re saying there's not anything that can be done and I'm going to beg to differ with you because I feel the urgency of the matter," said State Senator John Whitmire while addressing misdemeanor court judges during an informational town hall meeting on crime.
Whitmire, who is running for mayor, and Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, didn't hold back when discussing how misdemeanor court judges play a part in our ever-growing crime problem.
"I think the criminal population is emboldened by the repeated release and the publicity about it," Ogg said. "I think the length of time waiting for trial contributes to that."
Being out on bond was never intended to last for years. But that's what's happening now because of the huge backlog of cases in criminal courts.
"They know if they do not plead out, but hold up in a year from now, they believe, the defendants and their attorneys, that they will get a better offer," Whitmire said.
Ogg has repeatedly said releasing defendants from jail by granting multiple bonds fuels the rise in crime.
"We need our violent repeat offenders kept in jail and sometimes those are DWI and domestic violence," she said.
Whitmire pointed out it's no secret bonding companies no longer require 10% of the bond. Some are offering defendants just 2% and even giving them payment plans.
"They are going out and they're committing break-ins and stealing and robbing to pay their bond," Whitmire said. "If you know that, we need to speak out on that."
Whitmire says lawmakers need to look at the bail bonding industry during the next legislative session.
Another town hall meeting, like this one, will be held on April 21. That meeting will be for felony court judges and bail bondsmen.