FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22, 2021
Houston, TX – Senator Bettencourt, joined by Representatives Harless, Huberty, Cain, Paul, Oliverson, Murphy, Hull, and Swanson have jointly filed an Amicus Brief, in Federal Judge Lee Rosenthal’s Court, to ask that the Court, “…deny the Sheriff’s request to release accused felony offenders from the Harris County Jail.” This brief comes the day after Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s Office released their response. (Read full amicus brief: https://bit.ly/3pdGIHR)
This filing comes after a previous Amicus Brief was filed in April in the same case, Russell v. Harris County, to “object to the wholesale release of individuals accused of violent felony offenses from the Harris County Jail.” Judge Rosenthal, at the time, rejected the motion to release up to 4,000 inmates from the Harris County Jail. The nine legislators represent 1.75 million people, over one third of Harris County’s population.
Senator Bettencourt added to the Brief, “I objected to the release of 4,000 inmates last year as a potential crime bomb. With the level of public safety concerns in Harris County, we don’t need any portion of a crime bomb today! The brief also notes that the Legislature is in Session, so why isn’t Sheriff Gonzalez coming for relief there?” he added.
Public safety remains a major public policy concern in Houston, which has seen a sharp increase in homicides, rising to 380 through December 4, 2020, an almost 50% increase from 256 over the same period in 2019.
“I feel it is important to keep public safety paramount in this continuing Covid-19 situation,” said Representative Paul. Representative Swanson added, “This continued effort by liberal politicians to release criminals en masse is dangerous and unconscionable. Our law enforcement offices are overwhelmed as it is, and this policy threatens the safety of my constituents.”
Additionally, as reported by Andy Kahan Houston Crime Stoppers, at least 90 people have been killed in Harris County from 2018 to present by defendants who were out of jail on various PR and low dollar felony bonds.
“Common sense prevailed last time and I hope it prevails this time around,” said Representative Harless.
A recent ABC Eyewitness story has a quote that “dog walking is not even safe in Houston.” “So why is Sheriff Gonzalez even considering to add to this problem?” concluded Senator Bettencourt, who has been named Chairman of the Senate Local Government Committee.
This group of Harris County area Legislators continues to stand against the dangerous release of accused felony offenders from the Harris County Jail without any consideration of law enforcement and crime survivors, and calls upon the Court to deny Sheriff Gonzalez’s request.