Houston Prosecutor Kim Ogg Unloads on Bail Reform, Supported Legislative Move to Tighten Down on Release on Free Personal Bonds

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Continuing moves toward bail reform are still occurring, which are quite similar to Houston, Texas, where, in the name of the protecting the poor, hardened repeat criminals now slip through the cracks, get zero bails and repeat zero bails and go on to commit a variety of atrocities.

District Attorney Kim Ogg, who ran as a “reformer” actually ran on bail reform when she first got elected.  Supported in fact by George Soros, she made many of the arguments that are being put forward to policy-makers today—that there too many people in jail who “can’t bond out because they’re too poor.”[1]  And thus, beginning about five years ago, bail reform was implemented in both misdemeanor and felony cases.[2]

The results were spectacularly bad.  In a report issued on September 2, 2021 entitled Bail, Crime and Public Safety,[3] District Attorney Ogg presents detailed results of the failures of bail reform, which includes both felony and misdemeanor crimes.  In particular, bail reform lead to three bad results: “Re-offending by criminal defendants who have been released on bail is up.  Bond failures by criminal defendants are up.  Violent offenses committed by defendants free on bail is up.”

The report showed that crimes while on bail, driven by a massive increase in releases from jail on recognizance bonds (a.k.a., zero bail), resulted in triple the number of crimes committed on bail prior to the reforms being implemented.  Said DA Ogg: “While reasonable minds may differ as to the intent of “bail reform” as implemented in Harris County, and with due respect for the work of previous researchers, the public, the stakeholders and this Commissioner's Court, deserve a fuller understanding of the dire circumstances of the present situation.  This report confirms the experiences of prosecutors, police and crime victims. ‘Bail reform,’ as presently practiced in some Harris County courts, will continue to be a driving factor in the crime crisis gripping our community.

Not only that, District Attorney Ogg then testified in favor of legislation to begin to fix the problem[4].  Senate Bill 6[5] limits eligibility for release on free personal recognizance bonds in any number of serious felonies in addition to putting forward regulations on charitable bail organizations.  In fact, Governor Abbott signed the “Damon Allen Act” into law on September 13, 2021.[6]

Policymakers should be demanding that prosecutors and judges in their jurisdictions do the research that District Attorney Kim Ogg has done, and simply tell people the truth as to what’s happening.  We’ll either learn that the weakening of the bail system is working as intended, or we’ll find that out that, as in the fourth largest city in the United States, bail reform is a “driving factor in the crime crisis gripping our community.”  Resources are simply too scarce to waste on policies that don’t work.


[1] https://theappeal.org/harris-county-kim-ogg-bail-reform-jail/

[2] Said District Attorney Ogg: “Bail reform has not been confined to misdemeanors, but has been implemented, in practice, for felony defendants at every level, even repeat violent offenders charged with some of Harris County's most notorious and deadly crimes, including, but not limited to murders and capital murders.”

[3] https://ambailcoalition.org/download/174/harris-county-texas-study/6025/hcdao-bail-crime-public-safety-report-09-02-21_0-3.pdf

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBKZktH8Mvw&t=4s

[5] https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=872&Bill=SB6

[6] https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-signs-damon-allen-act-into-law-at-safer-houston-summit

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