FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 28, 2021
HCSD Sherriff Deputy shooting by inmate release on PR Bond highlights need for immediate changes
Houston, TX – In a hearing Tuesday, to discuss the request made by Harris County Sherriff Ed Gonzalez to release felony offenders from Harris County Jail, Judge Lee Rosenthal denied a request to order automatic bail hearings for inmates of the Harris County jail and told both sides to work together with judges to move cases along quickly within the courts.
Senator Bettencourt and 8 Texas House Representatives Harless, Huberty, Cain, Paul, Oliverson, Murphy, Hull, and Swanson, also filed an Amicus Brief (https://bit.ly/3pdGIHR), in Federal Judge Lee Rosenthal’s Court last week in opposition of the inmate release, asking the court to “...deny the Sheriff’s request to release accused felony offenders from the Harris County Jail.” The brief also quoted increased crime statistics.
“An HCSD Deputy was shot this week by an offender let out on another PR bond for Felony Theft in December 2020,” said Senator Bettencourt. As shown on KPRC story here, (https://bit.ly/3a9L4JP). “With the level of public safety concerns in Harris County, we didn't need any part of a new crime bomb! Public safety is the primary concern right now in Houston and something has to be done to protect our community, like filing legislation shortly.” added Bettencourt.
There is currently a maximum of 60 inmates, of the total 1,543 inmates the Sherriff originally listed, that have been recommended for release by the Harris County District Attorney office, and the rest of the inmates were not on the DA list primarily for various "holds" on their cases by other jurisdictions.
“The safety of our law enforcement and the public are being put at risk if dangerous felony inmates are released.” added Bettencourt. “Common sense prevailed last time and I hope it prevails this time around,” said Texas House Representative Sam Harless. "It appears it is!" concluded Senator Bettencourt.
Senator Bettencourt will be filing legislation on bail reform in the upcoming weeks. Senator Bettencourt has also been named to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.