AUSTIN,TX - Texas Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston) and other state legislators have a new proposal for the legislature: Do away with bail for offenders and introduce a risk-based system.
The supporting crew said they're in favor of a 48-hour detainer period instead of bail. If an arrested person is found to be a risk for flight or further crime within 48-hours of their arrest, the arresting entity can hold them until trial. Otherwise, they would be free to go.
Under the state's current system, a judge sets a bond for an arrestee and once that amount has been paid, the person is free to walk until their trial.
Supporters of the new change cite the similar bill passed in New Jersey in 2014. Many said that the bail system allowed wealthy arrestees to go free while those without money, even if innocent, often had to sit in jail until trial.
"What you have is a legislation that would eliminate the right to bail and use a computer algorithm to try and predict whether people will show up for court or do a new crime, " Executive Director of The American Bail Coalition Jeff Clayton explained.
According to Clayton, the new system would use computer systems and an arrestee's past history to determine their risk and then the local officials would have the opportunity to hold them within 48-hours.
"There's some concern in Texas that there are folks in jail who shouldn't be there or that can't afford their bail and are some sort of low level offenders," Clayton said.
Clayton agreed that the current system in Texas could use some reform, citing that it often takes too long for current offenders to be seen by a judge and that some bails can seem very high for the crime.
But, he said he did not personally believe the new system is the solution.
"You kind of have two extremes," he said. "I call it like' the rich gangster example,' where the rich gangster always gets out and then the poor guy who never has a dime never gets out. Most people are somewhere in between. For the vast majority of people the system works. I think you can make adjustments at the top and bottom without throwing out the whole system."
Clayton urged voters to reach out to their local Senators and Representatives before the bill is heard on April 4.
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