How Bail Reform Impacts You: PreTrial Release of Repeat Offenders and Higher Crime Rates

How Bail Reform Impacts You: PreTrial Release of Repeat Offenders and Higher Crime Rates

A review of 16 states was recently conducted that analyzed their recent bail reform. Each state was unique, but overwhelmingly the results came in that bail reform had failed.

In Harris County in Houston, Texas, those defendants released on unsecured bonds failed to appear 50% of the time. Harris County arrests approximately 1,000 misdemeanor individuals a week. If all of these individuals are given unsecured bonds and released pretrial, then approximately 500 individuals a week would not appear for hearings.

In 2015, El Paso, Texas spent $2 million to expand its pretrial services program with the goal of reducing the number of people sitting in jail and to show that the pretrial services program was as effective as the private bail industry. Since implementation of that program, El Paso has amassed an increase of over 200% in bail bond forfeiture judgments because of the defendants’ failure to appear in court, estimating a loss because of “failure to appears” of over $4.5 million dollars to the county.

Beyond higher taxes, crime rates, jail populations, lengths of stays, and racial disparities in these states and counties where pretrial release programs and risk assessment tools were implemented have soared.

Governor Susan Martinez of New Mexico said in late 2018, “New Mexico implemented this pretrial risk assessment tool to devastating results. I encourage those in Utah to be very skeptical of voices calling for misleading devices that would result in letting dangerous criminals back out on the street to terrorize communities.”

“We’ve gone the opposite direction, where criminals are feeling emboldened by this law.”

Mia Costello, Alaska State Senator

Alaska State Senator Mia Costello said of her state’s recent ‘catch-and-release’ program, “One of the reasons for having laws on the books is to send a message to the community about what is and what isn’t acceptable. We’ve gone the opposite direction, where criminals are feeling emboldened by this law.”

The same policies that failed in Alaska – that have since been repealed – are being recommended today in Texas.