Report from Harris County Democrat D.A.- Bail Reform in Harris County has Failed

The Harris County Democrat District Attorney has issued a report that blows the lid off of bail reform that has been an ongoing experiment in her county; documenting with facts and figures that bail reform has caused crime to increase.  In her conclusion, the district attorney’s report states:  

[O]ur analysis of the data and metrics they provided show that there is evidence that misdemeanor bail reform in Harris County is associated with lower community safety via higher recidivism and higher crime levels.  It has also undermined the integrity of the bail system through high bond failures.

 Ogg, Bail Crime & Public Safety, p. 55 (September 2, 2021).

Recidivism means the tendency of a defendant on bond and charged with committing a crime to be arrested and accused of a new crime while on bond.

Several years ago, Harris County entered into a settlement of a federal lawsuit which implemented many bail reform initiatives.  One of the terms of the agreement was that there would be a monitor who would issue periodic reports about whether the reforms were working.  Since the settlement, the monitor has issued several reports and has concluded that there was no change in recidivism as a result of the reforms.  The District Attonrey has strongly suggested that she did not agree with the findings of the reports.  Additionally, more recently, as statistics have demonstrated without question that crime has increased, reformers have been left conceeding that crime is up but have argued that the increase was not the result of bail reform.

On September 2, 2021, the District Attorney for Harris County, Kim Ogg, a Democrat, issued a report entitled “Bail, Crime & Public Safety.”  This report demonstrates with facts and figures that not only is crime up, but also, bail reform is the cause.

Let’s review just some of the charts in the report.

Chart No. 1:

The chart sets out the number of defendans who are on bond and then are charged with a new crime.  

This is not even the total number of people on bond, it is just the number of people who are on bond and then are arrested on a new charge.    On misdemeanor cases, in 2015, the numer was 3,212 defendants.  In 2021, the number grew to 10,555.  In 2021, it is projected to be 12,912.  This means that on average 35.47 people are arrested every day for new charges and they are already out on bond currently.

For pesons on felony bonds, the numbers are just as dramatic.  In 2015, the number of defendant who were out on bond for one criminal charge and then are arrested with new charges was 3,538 defendants.  In 2020, the number was 11,448 and in 2021, it is projected that 15,557 defendant who are currently on bond for pending charges will be arrested for new criminal charges.  This means that on average 42.74 felony defendants who are already on bond because they have pending charges in Harris County will be arrested on new charges every day in Harris County.

Chart No. 2:

This chart focuses on the number of misdemeanor defendants over time who are on bond for current criminal charges and then are arrested on a new misdeamanor charge.  

Chart No. 3:

This chart focuses on the number of defendant released on bond for a pending felony case who are then arrested on a new felony charge.  

Chart No. 4:
The report also looked at failures to appear.  The following chart demonstrates that in 2018 bond failures to appear on “general order PR bonds” had a 438% increase from 2017 and in 2019 had a 606% increase from 2017.  

Additionally, the report compared crime rates from Harris County to other large metropolitan areas including Los Angeles and Chicago.  The purpose of this review was to address the monitor’s conclusion that the increase in crime was not the result of bail reform, but most likely was the result of other nationwide socioeconomic pressures.  The district attorneys’ report rejects this conclusion and instead places the blame for the increase in crime on bail reform.
If you would like to read the report in more detail you can see it by CLICKING HERE.