Concern over new bill to reform bail in Texas

Proposed bail bond reform in Texas threatens to crush bonding businesses, claiming taxpayers will suffer too.

HOUSTON - Proposed bail bond reform in Texas threatens to crush bonding businesses, claiming taxpayers will suffer too.

If thieves smashing into cars to rip you off drives you mad, bail bondsman turned Houston city councilman Michael Kubosh thinks proposed Senate Bill 1338, written to help more non-violent criminals bail out of jail, should tick you off more than him.

"Before the officer gets finished writing the report, they'll be out," he said. "That TV set that they stole from momma's house, they're going to be going to grandma's house to get hers next. They're coming right back into the community to steal more."

SB 1338, sponsored by Houston State Senator John Whitmire, is based on two years of research from the Texas Judicial Council.

Counties statewide spend nearly a billion dollars a year housing misdemeanor offenders, according to research.  Many of those offenders are considered "low-risk" to skip court, according to the study.  They are often people too poor to pay bond too. 

Some, like Sandra bland, died there, according to the research.

So, Sen. Whitmire and others want reform. In order to increase safety and save money, pre-trial services in every county will vet offenders and release "low-risks" on personal recognizance.

"We already have that system in place," Kubosh said. "But they're not doing it. they're not doing what they're charged to do."

Bail bondsmen stand to lose 50-percent of their business, according to Texas Professional Bondsmen Association President John McClusky.

"It is a dagger," he said

His group insists taxpayers will suffer more. 

Last year, Harris County made nearly $16 million on misdemeanors bonds and fines, according to county records. Also, several bondsmen also owe the county money for people who skipped court after bonding out jail.

Without that accountability, bondsmen think counties will lose millons a year while more criminals get out of jail free.

"The taxpayers are going to have to pay it," Kubosh said.

 

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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