Justice Advocates React to Felony Bond Order

Advocates say order “needs improvement to maximize impact”

Travis County Correctional Complex
Travis County Correctional Complex (Photo by John Anderson)

Four criminal justice reform groups responded today to the Standing Order issued by the felony District Court Judges earlier this week. The Texas Fair Defense Project, Texas Appleseed, Austin Justice Coalition, and ACLU of Texas called the order a “positive step” but recommended broader scope.

The groups’ press release compares the new order unfavorably to a recent similar order by Harris County District judges, saying the latter contains “narrower exceptions and streamlined pretrial procedures to limit unnecessary contact within the criminal legal system,” and also “clearly applies retroactively” to people already incarcerated.

Chris Harris of Texas Appleseed commented, “While we are encouraged by the judges’ issuance of this order, we are concerned that it bakes in the same discretion that has led to wealth-based detention present in the current system. Especially given the immediate threat of COVID-19, the order should guarantee release for as many as possible without any unnecessary delay.”

Emily Gerrick of the Texas Fair Defense Project said, “While we are heartened to see that the District Court Judges are thinking about how to release people on these low-level felonies, we need to make sure the exceptions don't swallow the rule.”

The groups’ full statement is available here. For more, see "District Judges Issue Order on Felony Personal Bonds," March 24, and follow the Chronicle's ongoing coverage.

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