Texas considers law to eliminate cash bail for nonviolent offenders

Mar 14, 2017

Credit Steve Snodgrass / Wikimedia Commons

A bipartisan coalition of Texas lawmakers has proposed a series of reforms that would help poor defendants get out of jail, reports The Houston Chronicle.

If passed, the new laws would eliminate the need for nonviolent offenders to pay a cash bail, as long as they’re not deemed dangerous or a flight risk. Backers of the bills include the chief judges of the Texas Supreme Court and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in the State Legislature.

Under the current system, indigent defendants are often left to languish in jail, even after being arrested for minor crimes. Over the past ten years, 1,100 people have died in Texas jails while being held before trial. Most died by suicide.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht says he wants to follow the lead of states like Kentucky, and set defendants free when they pose no real risks.