HOUSTON — Harris County’s top prosecutor is sounding the alarm in a stunning new report.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said crime is rising, cases are backlogged and too many offenders are being let out on bond after bond after bond.
She submitted a report to Harris County commissioners. She said bail reform has led to declining public safety.
One mom said it cost her daughter her life.
“Every second of every day,” Melanie Infinger said.
Infinger said she can’t escape the memories of her daughter’s murder.
“I always find little notes and books and letters and poems,” Infinger said.
Her daughter Caitlynne Guajardo was stabbed to death in 2019. At the time, she was four months pregnant.
The man arrested her husband, Alex Guajardo, was out on PR bonds at the time, meaning he didn’t have to pay to get out of jail.
“I wanted to know who let him out. I was angry,” Infinger said.
And it’s not an isolated case. According to the 64-page report issued by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, in 2015, 6,344 defendants out on bond were accused in new crimes.
In 2020, the number almost triples to 18,820.
“I thought it was an extremely damming report,” said Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers.
Kahan has been tracking the increase for the last two years.
“In some cases we have seen defendants on bond getting PR bonds, which simply defies logic,” Kahan said.
But Texas lawmakers have taken notice. This week they passed Senate Bill 6, which says you can’t get a PR or “free bond” for violent offenses. It also says judges must have access to criminal history before letting someone out.
“It absolutely would have saved her life. Absolutely,” Infinger said.
Infinger hopes the new law will save another family from the same pain.
“I feel like finally they are doing something, because they are seeing the ramifications of bond reform,” Infinger said.
The governor still has to sign the bill into law, and there will be some time before it takes effect. Ogg believes the way some judges are handing out bonds will continue to be a driving factor in what she calls the “crime crisis” in our community.