"About 1,900 inmates currently sleep on the floor in the Harris County
Jail drawing the ire of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards," writes
Scott Henson, in his first report on the overcrowding problem.
"According to a recent consultant’s report (Word document), a major
reason is clear: A shift in bail policy over the last decade to require
cash bond in more cases instead of personal bond, or releasing
defendants on their promise to later appear in court. Half of all
inmates presently in the Harris County Jail are awaiting trial; a large
proportion couldn’t make bail."
Writes Henson: "Though other factors are also at play, much of the
Harris County Jail’s overincarceration crisis can be explained by this
shift in policy. In other words, Harris County’s jail overcrowding
crisis is a self-inflicted wound."
"In the last ten years, the number of misdemeanor defendants who were
ordered to pay bail instead of being released on "personal bond"
increased more than 30,000%! No, that’s not a typo: It increased more
than thirty thousand percent!"
For the rest, get your Grits for Breakfast here. This is what we call criminalization with civil rights implications,
since we feel like the problem wouldn’t grow so fast if it concerned
white kids in the suburbs, in other words, there is no evidence that
the refusal to grant personal bonds is tied to actual risks of
defendants not showing up. So if there is no rational basis, we tender the hypothesis of racist bias.–gm