The limited space in county jails should be reserved for those who are a danger to our community. As currently written, Texas Senate Bill 21 would have a detrimental impact on Texas’ criminal justice system. This bill would limit Judicial discretion at a bond hearing and restrict a judge’s ability to make a decision based on the facts in front of them.
During his testimony Thursday, Gonzales said, “My concern is that this is an attempt to come up with a statewide solution to what may be a problem in just a handful of counties. In Bexar County, we have a robust pretrial services division. The Office of Criminal Justice screens defendants for bonds, including public recognizance bonds, and then judges have the ability to review this information when determining someone’s eligibility for a bond. This has been the case for many years. Additionally, Bexar County prosecutors regularly monitor the conduct of defendants who are released on bond and with a motion from the state, judges can increase or revoke a bond if a new offense is committed. Because of these systems, we are not seeing the same problems in community safety that specific counties in Texas are experiencing.”
This bill will most greatly impact poor defendants. By attempting to address public safety by limiting PR bonds, those who are poor and are not a danger to the community will languish in jail while people with access to monetary resources will get out regardless of community safety.