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Showing posts from February, 2020

The Faces of Bail Reform- Harris County has Blood on its Hands

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You can see the original webpost by  CLICKING HERE . Wayne Dolcefino is one of the nation’s most decorated journalists. Thirty Emmy Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Five Charles Green Awards, an Edward R. Murrow award, a Jack Howard Award for investigative reporting, numerous honors from the Associated Press and Texas Association of Broadcasters, and an unprecedented three medals from the international journalism organization Investigative Reporters and Editors. For nearly 27 years, Dolcefino headed up the 13 Undercover Unit at abc13 KTRK-TV Eyewitness News. The 13 Undercover investigative unit specialized in exposing public corruption, wasted taxpayer money, government malfeasance and fraud. As head of the unit, Dolcefino managed the investigative process, and was involved in the marketing and advertising of KTRK-TV’s investigative news product. Between 1979 and 1985, Dolcefino was an investigative reporter and radio talk show host at NewsRadio 740 KTR
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To view our CALL TO ACTION-  CLICK HERE .

Pretrial Justice Institute Reverses Course, Now Opposes Use of Risk Assessments

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Algorithims were supposed to fix all the ills of the Bail System.   Since before 2014, the Pretrial Justice Institute has encouraged states to use mathematical formulas, called "risk assessment tools" to try to eliminate racial inequities. New Jersey adopted algorithmic risk assessment in 2014 at the urging, in part, of the nonprofit Pretrial Justice Institute. The influential Baltimore organization has for years advocated use of algorithms in place of cash bail. However, earlier this month, PJI did a complete about face.  It suddenly reversed itself. The group now says that risk-assessment tools (like the ones it previously promoted) have no place in pretrial justice because they perpetuate racial inequities. In a statement released by PJI the group said: Regardless of their science, brand, or age, these tools are derived from data reflecting structural racism and institutional inequity that impact our court and law enforcement policies and practices. About three years ago,

Special Edition PBT Newsletter February 2020

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PBT has published a Special Edition Newsletter which is made up of a four part series to address Harris County.  You can see it by  CLICKING HERE .

Part 1: Your County Should Not Adopt the Harris County Model for Bail Reform

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I. Introduction This is the first in a four part series to address whether any county in Texas should implement a Harris County type model calling it bail reform. This article will highlight the various issues that should be considered in making this decision. The Dallas Morning News recently included an editorial that addressed bail reform. It stated, “it now appears that there is another type of bail ‘reform’ that is growing into a national movement championed by some district attorneys. This type of bail reform drives toward the uncritical release, on outrageously low bonds, of people accused of violent crimes who have a history of violent behavior.” The Harris County model falls into this category and should be rejected. II. What is the Goal of Bail? Bail was created to allow someone to be freed from jail while their criminal case is prosecuted. The person’s release is in exchange for their agreement to appear in court any time required by the trial court. If they do not appear for

Harris County Through the Looking Glass

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by Ken W. Good Original Article Published at Houston Courant in February 2020- In  Alice Through the Looking-Glass , author Lewis Carroll created a sequel to  Alice in Wonderland .  Alice climbs through a mirror and enters a world beyond the one she can normally see.  Everything there is reversed, just like a reflection in a mirror -- even logic itself.  In this bizarre reality, running helps one remain stationary, while walking away actually brings one closer. In 2019, Harris County, Texas entered its own "looking glass," where logic and reason are similarly reversed.  This new world sprang into existence as a result of a settlement in the federal class action case of  ODonnell v. Harris County .  Through this agreement the public has been told that simply releasing criminal defendants without accountability will make everyone safer, even though it is creating more crime.  They have also been informed that the growing numbers of failures to appear are not the cause of the in

TPPF- Responds to PBT Article "Through the Looking Glass"

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On February 17, 2020, the Houston Courant published a response to PBT's article entitled "Harris County- Through the Looking Glass."  The article was written by Michael Haugen who is a part of the Texas Public Policy Foundation which supports many of the changes advocated in Harris County. In his article,  Mr. Haugen says that many of PBT's points are valid. These include: Harris County’s new misdemeanor release practices all but ignore public safety. Good’s point about case backlogs is well received. No one wants dangerous individuals roaming the streets after having been arrested, but no one wants poverty to become an impediment on someone’s liberty, either. In this article Mr. Haugen spends  approximately two thirds of his response conceeding that there are problems. Next, he says that the new system needs more time to see if it will work. Therafter, the final third of the article says that there is a fix for the problem and that is adoption of the bill sponsored b

Part 4: What Successful Bail Reform Looks Like

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I.  Introduction This is the fourth in our four part a series regarding whether any county in Texas should adopt the Harris County model for bail reform. This article addresses what successful bail reform looks like. The private surety bail system has been in place for over 200 years. The purpose of bail is to allow someone accused of a crime to get out of jail while their case is pending. In exchange for freedom, the accused promises to appear in court any time it demands his appearance. If a defendant fails to appear, his or her bond is forfeited and a warrant is issued for their arrest. The criminal case is then placed on hold until the accused reappears. This could be for hours, days, weeks or even years -- and occasionally never. As we look to improve the bail system in Texas, we must first begin with the proposition that says “we should do no harm.” We should not initiate changes which will make the system worse by creating unintended consequences that slow down the system or mak

Part 3: The Harris County Model is not Working

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I. Introduction This is the third of a four part series focusing on whether your county should adopt the Harris County model to reform its criminal justice system.  This article will address how the Harris County model is failing. II. In Harris County, The Numbers of Pending Cases Are Increasing Dramatically Harris County arrests approximately 50,000 misdemeanor defendants annually. This works out to approximately 1,000 people a week who are added to the criminal justice system to have their criminal cases adjudicated. Anything that slows down the system will prevent the court from resolving the number of cases needed to keep up with the flow of new cases and prevent a build up of an ever growing backlog of cases. If defendants miss court, their case is put on hold until they return. If more and more defendants fail to appear, the number of pending cases increase over time. The District Attorneys’ office in Harris County is reporting that the number of pending cases that are awaiting r

Part 2: Researching the Risk Assessment Tool- Scholars Agree They Should Not Be Used

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I.   Pamphlet- Studying the Risk Assessment Tood The Professional Bondsmen of Texas has released a series of pamphlets intended to allow you to educate yourself regarding various issues related to Bail Reform.  The mose recent pamphlet summarizes the verious research regarding whether risk assessments should be a part of bail reform or criminal justice reform.  In reviewing these studies, it is clear that they have all come to the same conclusion that risk assessments should not be part of bail reform and as some stated risk assessments should not be used.  You can see the pamphlet by  CLICKING HERE . II.  Pamphlet-  Overview of the Issues The first pamphlet in the series outlined the various issues that a state or county may expect to arise.  This pamphlet is intended to educate readers as an overview of the issues and can be viewed by  CLICKING HERE .  II.  Pamphlet- Failed Bail Reform The second pamphlet in the series outlines the various jurisdictions that attempted bail reform and

Vote No on Proposition No. 9

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Vote No O n  Prop. 9 For the Following Reasons:  This proposition attempts to start the process of bringing a New York style bail reform to Texas.  In New York, defendants accused of certain crimes must be released.  Judges have no discretion.  Defendants who commit new crimes are again released without accountability.  This spiraling cycle of violence is being created with increasing crime state wide. De Blasio, Mayor of New York City recently admitted that the cause of this increased  crime in New York was the bail reform law and called for New York Legislators to change the law.  Read more by  CLICKING HERE . We agree that poor people should not be kept in jail because they are poor.  However, that is not the point of this proposition.   The focus of the proposition is the first part which says that "Texas bail should be based ONLY on a person's danger to society and risk of flight . . ." (emphasis added).  Texas law requires that bail should based on more than just th