HOUSTON - 105 flags have the names of people police each say were killed by repeat violent offenders free from jail on multiple felony and personal recognizance bonds.
"We were also left with broken hearts knowing that it didn’t have to be that way," said Marisol Ramos, whose brother is one of the 105 killed. "We were left with broken hearts because of a system that allowed this to happen."
"Every single one of these individuals had family, friends, coworkers, people that loved them," said Doug Griffith President of the Houston Police Union.
In a senate hearing two weeks ago for House Bill 21, District Attorney Kim Ogg testified the number of violent crimes being committed by defendants free from jail on multiple felony and PR bonds has skyrocketed.
"You have to be charged with a crime eight times to have eight bonds," said Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers. "We went from two cases in 2018 to 74 released on eight or more felony bonds in 2020."
"Crime is up ladies and Gentlemen and the reason is bail," Ogg testified during the Senate hearing.
None of the DAs findings for the 105 deaths are even mentioned in the report by the Harris County Justice Administration Department sent to Harris County Commissioners Court.
JAD is against Senate Bill 21 becoming law.
Remember last year there was talk of releasing jail inmates on PR bonds due to COVID.
The JAD report states only 14 defendants were actually released on PR bonds, but fails to mention only two of the 14 released on bond actually complied with their conditions.
Two picked up new criminal charges, the rest are either now in prison or wanted fugitives.
"We are tired of putting the same people in jail," Griffith said.
In a statement, JAD said, "One act of violence is one too many. But after decades of broken criminal justice policies, we need to start relying on facts to inform our reforms, not rhetoric or cherrypicked statistics. Our response to this increase in crime must be acknowledged in what is actually driving it, and we know from data and research that bail reform is NOT the driving factor.
The fact is that the only formal "bail reform" in Harris County is misdemeanor bail reform. This only applies to low-level, non-violent misdemeanor defendants, not violent felons. In fact, Pretrial defendants in 2020 are waiting disposition after being released on bond, more than twice as long as they did in 2015. This is one of the driving factors contributing to the increase in the number of defendants charged with new offenses while they are on bond.
Looking at just the raw numbers without considering other underlying factors (such as: hurricanes, pandemic, rise in unemployment) over this period of time does not provide a full picture and will not make Harris County safer.
The various reports JAD has prepared on crime stats have been shared with Andy Kahn and Crime Stoppers. JAD collaborates and has regular meetings with law enforcement, prosecutors, various victims’ groups (including Crime Stoppers) and others on a regular basis to discuss work that is being done and what new things can we do to make Harris County safer."