AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed an intervention to prevent the release of thousands of felony arrestees on personal recognizance bonds, which would allow dangerous criminals to roam freely and commit more crimes during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Just over a week ago, a Harris County judge released a murder suspect on bond because the suspect claimed he feared contracting COVID-19 in jail. Now Harris County is working with prisoner plaintiffs in a federal case to intentionally release thousands of more suspects on personal recognizance bonds. Harris County refuses to defend its citizens against the proposed mass, unmonitored release of felons, making state intervention necessary to protect Texans from this potential threat.
“Protecting Texans is one of my highest priorities. It is vital that we maintain the integrity of our criminal justice system and continue to enforce state law during this pandemic,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The release of thousands of arrestees justly held for felony crimes would directly endanger the public, and my office will not stand for any action that threatens the health and safety of law-abiding citizens.”
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure dictates that only the Court, before whom a defendant’s criminal case is pending, may release a defendant facing various serious felonies on personal bond, and mandatory bond conditions must be imposed for certain crimes. There is no indication that the Court can ensure all mandatory conditions are met and enforced to protect the public from dangerous criminals.
Read a copy of today’s filing here.
For information on the spread or treatment of Coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit the Texas Department of State Health Services website.