Bail Reform

Almost two-thirds of the individuals held in Texas county jails have not been convicted of any crime but are being detained before trial, because they cannot afford the bond amount set in their cases or even 10% of the bond amount to pay a bail bondsman. In most counties, no risk assessment tool is used to determine the likelihood that each defendant will commit a new crime awaiting trial or fail to appear in court. Instead, judges determine bond amounts based on bond schedules, where the category of the offense as well as defendant’s criminal record determines the pre-set bond amount in each case. As a result, low-risk, low-income defendants remain in jail for no other reason than they cannot afford bail. Texas Appleseed is working to reform the current bail bond system so that decisions about pretrial release and supervision are based upon risk level and research, rather than the amount of money a defendant has.