Most slaves complied with Harris County’s new bail payment rule

A recent review of bail records found that most bondmen were complying with new regulations requiring defendants charged with violent crimes to pay 10% or more of their bail to get out of jail, officials said.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office reviewed records from April 23 – when the mandatory minimum charge went into effect – through the end of the month and found that 94 defendants whose charges qualified under the rule had posted bail to secure their freedom, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said Wednesday at the county bail board meeting. Authorities received affidavits for all but three of those defendants – and the records that were turned over showed bail bondsmen accepting a minimum of 10% of their clients.

EXPLANATION : What you need to know about Harris County’s new bail rule and its impact on violent crime

“The vast majority were in compliance,” Gonzalez said.

These affidavits, which outline how the sheriff’s office will enforce the regulations, show what premium a bail bondsman collected prior to the defendant’s release, how the premium was paid, and who paid it.

sergeant. Sisto DeLeon, who collected and reviewed the documents, said the three missing affidavits stemmed from cases a bail bondsman had started on the eve of the new rule – but their documents were only handed over. the day after.

Sergeant Mario Garza, second from left, takes notes while listening to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez read a report on bail compliance in the county since the 10% rule was passed, at the Harris County Administration Building Commissioner’s Courtroom on Wednesday, May 11. , 2022, in Houston.

Godofredo A. Vásquez, Houston Chronicle / staff photographer

The Bail Bond Board approved the rule in April after hours of moving testimony from politicians and families of homicide victims, mostly children killed. The bail fee debate stems from a Chronicle investigation that found that bail bondsmen have been offering discounted rates to defendants for years. A review of court records for this investigation found that serfs were increasingly accepting lower charges for more violent crimes amid declining profits.

Bail agents have more recently relied on payment plans.

The Bail Bond Board can revoke a bail bond slave’s license for not following any rules it sets.

Bondsman Mario Garza, left, and Kathryn Kase after listening to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez read a report on bail compliance in the county since the 10% rule was passed, at the hall Harris County Administration Building Commissioner hearing on Wednesday, May 11.  2022, in Houston.

Bondsman Mario Garza, left, and Kathryn Kase after listening to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez read a report on bail compliance in the county since the 10% rule was passed, at the hall Harris County Administration Building Commissioner hearing on Wednesday, May 11. 2022, in Houston.

Godofredo A. Vásquez, Houston Chronicle / staff photographer

A lawsuit filed April 22 against the county tried to block the bail policy from taking effect with the argument that it would jeopardize a bond business and force bail slaves to participate in “an illegal pricing system”. Lawyers for both sides return to court on June 13 to discuss a temporary injunction.

On HoustonChronicle.com: New bail dashboard offers insight into trends in Harris County criminal courts

Defense attorney and board chairman Troy McKinney expressed concern at the time of the vote that the policy could prevent some defendants from posting bail and a more overcrowded prison. Gonzalez argued then that the prison was already filled with violent repeat offenders.

More than 9,550 defendants were in jail as of Tuesday, about 20 more inmates than when the bail policy went into effect.

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Elaine R. Knight