Being Poor Should Not Impact Your Jail Release

By Peek & Toland on December 13, 2016

As Texas attorneys who work on jail release, we see many reasons why people end up incarcerated. They are not always linked to the severity of a crime.

Recently, we noted how many inmates were not being released from Harris County Jail due to their poverty.

It’s not just happening in Texas. The U.S. Justice Department took aim at the practice recently, NBC news reported. The Justice Department believes that incarcerating people due to an inability to pay is unconstitutional.

poverty should not impact jail release

Increasingly, the Obama administration is encouraging state courts to move away from the practice of fixing set bail amounts.

Ability to Pay Linked to Jail Release May be Unconstitutional

In a brief, the justice department said bail practices that jail indigent individuals before their trial solely due to their inability to pay to get out of jail violate the Fourteenth Amendment. The amendment states that no individual should be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.

The federal filing in question came in the case of Maurice Walker of Calhoun, Georgia. Walker remained in jail for six nights. He was arrested for the misdemeanor of being a pedestrian under the influence of alcohol. He was informed he could not get out of jail unless he paid the fixed bail amount of $160.

Similar cases were highlighted in Houston. An article in Think Progress described the plight of Robert Ryan Ford, a 26-year-old man with no job or bank account who was informed he had to pay $5,000 to get out of Harris County Jail.

The Think Progress article described how as many as 77 percent of people being held in Harris County Jail are incarcerated because they couldn’t afford to pay bail of $5,000 or even less. In the six years from 2009 to 2015, 55 people died in the jail while being held there because they could not afford to make bail.

Our Texas criminal defense lawyers help clients negotiate the difficulties of jail release. You can read more about how we can help you here.

Our bail bond attorneys will offer guidance support and keep up the pressure on the authorities if you should not be behind bars.

Contact our experienced Austin criminal defense team for a consultation here or call (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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Texas Jail is Accused of Keeping Inmates Imprisoned Due to Poverty

By Peek & Toland on August 4, 2016

The Harris County Jail in Houston is the largest in Texas and the third largest in the country. A recent report suggests its population is over-inflated because it’s jailing people who are in a poverty trap.

A recent article in Think Progress makes for alarming reading. It details how the jail is the subject of a lawsuit brought by individuals who claim it is detaining people who are too poor to pay bail without bothering to assess whether they can afford it.

Poverty is keeping prisoners incarcerated in Houston

Poverty is keeping prisoners incarcerated in Houston

As Texas criminal defense attorneys who work hard for the jail release of our clients, we are alarmed to read about these potentially unconstitutional practices.

One of the inmates who filed a lawsuit against Harris County Jail is Maranda Lynn O’Donnell. Her crime was of a minor nature.  She was arrested for allegedly driving with an invalid license a few months ago. She said that arrest led her to be incarcerated for two days at the jail, removing her from her four-year-old daughter and her new job at a restaurant.

She would have been able to leave the jail immediately if she had more money. As it was, her poverty kept her behind bars, reported Think Progress. This was not an isolated case.

Poverty and the Harris County Jail

The article also cited the case of 26-year-old Robert Ryan Ford, a young man with no job and no bank account who was told he had to pay $5,000 to get out following his arrest on May 18.

The Think Progress article said as many as 77 percent of inmates are in the jail because they can’t afford to pay bail of $5,000 or even less. Alarmingly, in the six years from 2009 to 2015, 55 people died in the Harris County Jail because they could not afford bail.

Often those who remain inside have not considered hiring a bail bond lawyer. However, an attorney can be a key figure in securing your release.

Securing bail depends on factors including the severity of the crime, safety of victims and the community, and the ability of the accused to make the bail. It seems that defendants who are accused of relatively minor crimes and are not a danger to the public are being held for unacceptably long periods in the Harris County Jail.

If you are seeking a bail bond attorney in Houston, Austin or elsewhere in Texas, you should contact us today for a consultation.

Posted in Jail Release

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