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Harris County Bail Bond Board rejects proposal requiring bondsmen to collect 10% minimum bond

Five votes were required to pass the resolution but only four board members voted "yes."

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — The Harris County Bail Bond Board voted against a proposal requiring local bondsmen to collect at least 10 percent of bond before posting a surety bond.

Five votes were required to pass the resolution but only four board members voted "yes." There were two board members who voted "no" and two others who declined to vote to or for the proposal.

The proposal comes after several recent high-profile murders of teenagers, like Diamond Alvarez, the 16-year-old who was killed by her boyfriend. Alvarez's accused killer is out on bond. 

Alvarez's friends and family sat front row during this executive session, all wearing matching red T-shirts with her name on them as the 17-year-old suspect in her case remains free on bond. 

Alvarez's aunt, Blanca Mejia, said her family has been threatened and harassed since her niece was killed on Jan. 11.

RELATED: 'He executed my daughter' | Mother of slain teen worried after her accused killer is released from jail

In addition to victims’ families, bail bondsmen also gave public comments.

While most local bond companies collect 8 to 10 percent of a defendant’s bond, some collect just 2 percent and negotiate a payment plan for the remaining 8 percent. That allows those suspects to get out of jail for a fraction of that 10 percent down payment.

Bondsmen argue all this is political rhetoric with rising crime in an election year. Victims’ families argue it will improve public safety.

RELATED: Report claims bail system in Harris County leads to more crime

David Castro was shot in an apparent road rage incident after an Astros game last year. His father, Paul Castro, told the board the suspect's bondsman is known for accepting bonds as low as 2 percent. 

"My son’s life was traded for $7,000," Paul said. 

RELATED: Man accused of killing teen in post-Astros game road rage shooting seeks permission to work

Bail bondsman Shaun Burns had a different take on the mandatory 10 percent proposal.

“We are no longer able to negotiate with the poor, we can only bond out those with money," Burns said. "Second of all, I want to say, I have yet to hear how this rule is going to make us any safer.”

Bail bondsman Ken Good argued Harris County doesn’t have the authority to make that change. 

“You are acting as the Texas legislature," Good said, "If you want to set what we should charge that should be done, if it can, at the Texas legislature, not here.”

Bondsmen argue whether they collect 1 percent or 10 percent, they forfeit the entire bond if the defendant doesn’t show. They point out they are extremely motivated to get the suspect to appear for court dates.

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