HOUSTON -The Greater Houston coalition for justice is urging Harris County to drop an appeal.
The appeal is an objection to a U.S. District Court judge’s findings that Harris County had unconstitutional bail practices.
“This issue is an issue that is color blind because it’s the issue of the poor. The people without,” said Steven Flores, President of Communication Workers of America.
Harris County has spent $5 million defending a system the coalition describes as cruel and inhumane. If those accused with a crime are financially unable to pay their bail, they sit in jail until their court date.
”We can not continue to use a fixed schedule to set bond, we need to look and come up with another way where you look at the person’s ability to pay and you also look at the risk that person poses to the public,” said State Representative Carol Alvarado from Texas’ 145th House District.
“People that can not afford the bail bond, it ruins their lives, because not only do they lose their jobs, sometimes they lose their family,” said Johnny Mata with Greater Houston Coalition for Justice.
When it comes to bail, another organization, the Houston Police Officers Union, is critical of Harris County, but from a different, albeit similar, perspective.
“Somebody needs to be taking the time over there to say ‘Is this a repeat offender? Are they violent? What does their history look like?’ You can’t just keep giving out low bond amounts to folks, they don’t show up to court, we don’t know what they’re doing,” said Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers Union. “We’re not after the single mother who gets arrested for a suspended license, you know if they want to put her on a PR bond and make sure she shows up to court that’s fine, nobody’s asking for that.”
Lady Justice may be blind, but everyone else is watching to see if and how the bail system in Harris County is going to change.