A proposal to end cash bail for most misdemeanor arrestees in Houston emerged seemingly unscathed from a fairness hearing Monday, despite concerns from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that it will give a free pass to undocumented immigrants, Courthouse News Service reports. Hailed as a guidepost for reforms across the U.S., the settlement hearing drew influential critics: Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, three law enforcement unions and and Paxton’s office. Houston Police Officers’ Union attorney Mary Nan Huffman gave a lurid example of how the settlement could endanger the public by mandating that misdemeanor arrestees be released on personal recognizance bonds, with no upfront fee of more than $100.
Huffman said a woman named Brittney was walking her baby in a stroller and noticed a man in a red truck kept driving by her. She got home, put the baby down for a nap and started folding laundry on her living room couch. Brittney looked out her window into the backyard and the man in the red truck was staring at her, holding a knife in one hand and his genitals in the other. “Without a bond hearing, no one would know his criminal history, how he’s committed rapes and been in and out of prison,” Huffman said. She said the proposed settlement, which has been preliminary approved by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal, puts police at risk because when criminals reoffend and go on the lam, police may be the first people to encounter them. The deal “caters to criminals,” she said.