But for the industry, the more important aspect of the bill was what it didn’t do. While it targeted judges’ perceived role in speeding defendants’ return to the streets, it failed to even mention the deals that Harris County bondsmen have for years been cutting on an increasing number of violent felonies, also helping defendants to secure their freedom more easily while they await trial.
A quick summary of the incredible positive impact ODonnell has had in terms of avoiding family separation, avoiding convictions, and reducing costs, I put together a quick list of bullet points:
Judges set bail, but it’s the bondsmen who decide how much a defendant pays to get out of jail.
The long-held 10 percent standard — with defendants or their loved ones paying a tenth of the bail amount to a private company — is not gospel anymore in Harris County and likely never was. People have been securing their release from jail on lower fees for years, according to county data and bail agents.
Judge Mike Fields, a retired Republican presiding on Darrell Jordan’s bench, is the latest person to redirect blame over a clogged docket that threatens to cripple justice for people accused of crimes.