Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

Representing the 18th District of TEXAS

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Applauds and Welcomes Reforms to the Cash Bail System in Harris County

Feb 4, 2019
Press Release

For Immediate Release                                                                      Contact: Robin Chand

February 1, 2019                                                                     202-225-3816

 

Press Statement

 

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Applauds and Welcomes Reforms to the Cash Bail System in Harris County

 

Jackson Lee—“Cash bail is the practice of denying pre-trial release to arrestees who lack the monetary funds to post bail.  It is a regressive and antiquated relic.  It holds people hostage for crimes for which others would be released.  It has a disparate impact on the poor, and communities of color.  One finding, by Chief Judge Lee Rosenthal, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, cited research that found that holding poor people in detention because they could not afford cash bail led people to lose their jobs and that judges were ostensibly exacerbating rates of recidivism.”

Washington, DC - Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Budget and Homeland Security, issued this statement praising reforms to the bail system in Harris County:

 

“I applaud today’s announcement regarding the system of cash bail in Harris County and in Houston, and the decision to eliminate cash bail in most instances involving misdemeanor offenses.

“Cash bail is the practice of denying pre-trial release to arrestees who lack the monetary funds to post bail.  It is a regressive and antiquated relic.  It holds people hostage for crimes for which others would be released.  It has a disparate impact on the poor, and communities of color.  One finding, by Chief Judge Lee Rosenthal, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, cited research that found that holding poor people in detention because they could not afford cash bail led people to lose their jobs and that judges were ostensibly exacerbating rates of recidivism.

“The apparatus eventually led to class-action litigation, and that civil action yielded a positive outcome, aided in part by the sweeping victory enjoyed by a slate of judges who were swept into office.  As part of a proposed settlement to the litigation, and demonstrating that change can come if voters are empowered, the new slate of judges promptly proposed reforms to the bail system.  The hallmark of these reforms is a system where the vast majority of individuals—85%—arrested on nonviolent misdemeanor offenses qualify for release on no cash bail.  The balance of arrestees, for crimes such as bond violations, repeat offenses for drunk driving, and certain domestic violence offenses would not be eligible under these new rules.  Pursuant to the settlement, and with the consent of stakeholders in Harris County, the reforms were presented to Chief Judge Rosenthal for ratification.  I applaud these reforms because they portend that the criminal justice system will no longer penalize indigence in certain instances. They serve as a model for states across the nation.  As a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, and a senior member of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, I have advocated for and intend to introduce legislation that addresses bail reform at the federal level.  In the meanwhile, I applaud the progress of Harris County.”

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Congresswoman Jackson Lee is a Democrat from Texas’s 18th Congressional District. She is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security and is Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.