Judges leery of no-cost personal bonds

Judges leery of no-cost personal bonds - Houston Chronicle

Judges leery of no-cost personal bonds – Houston Chroniclehttp://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Harris-County-judges-leery-of-personal-3851998.phpWhether the charge is robbery, shoplifting or drug use, most people arrested in Harris County stay in jail because they can’t afford to post bail. Last year, just 5.2 percent of slightly more than 94,000 people arrested by Harris County police agencies got out of jail on no-cost personal recognizance bonds, according to a report by the Harris County Pretrial Services office. In July, 65 percent of the county’s 9,133 prisoners were pretrial detainees rather than convicted criminals serving sentences, according to the Office of Criminal Justice Coordination. Last year the pretrial office screened about 80,000 defendants, and Oeller said her officers recommended that 25 percent of those arrested on felony charges and 40 percent of misdemeanor defendants be granted a PR bond. McSpadden said most defendants who ask for a PR bond are charged with a nonviolent crime, and most are rejected because they have a previous conviction that increases their risk factor. The judges have a tremendous amount of confidence in it, said Ronald Morgan, the agency’s training and education coordinator. “The county uses it extremely well to manage jail populations, as well having a just bail system that places at the forefront community safety and court appearance,” Morgan said.
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