© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

How Effective Is The Bail Bond System In Texas?

Roy Luck/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) http://bit.ly/2HkR8is

After an arrest, the accused may be held in jail unless they can afford to post bail.

"Making bail" refers to the process of leveraging money or property in exchange for a temporary release of the accused. The price for bail can range from a few hundred to millions of dollars depending on the charge.

Bail bonds were initially implemented to help guarantee a person's participation at a later court date. Is it an effective system? How are bail amounts decided and how does the process work?

Last month, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Harris County’s bail system is in violation of the Constitution, particularly the measures ensuring due process and equal protection.

State lawmakers' previous reform efforts have been unsuccessful in the Texas legislature and policies are not consistent across the United States.

This has led organizations nationwide to crowdsource resources to help bail out low-income offenders who have been detained for months, even years. Eight inmates were released from Bexar County Adult Detention Center on March 8 through similar efforts.   

A more objective analysis of a person's case, often referred to as a pre-trial risk assessment, could help save state funds and create better outcomes for the accused, according to the Texas Judicial Council and the Public Policy Research Institute. 

What are some proposed reforms and what are potential implications for the accused, the bond industry and the effectiveness of Texas' criminal justice system?


"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource. Leave a voicemail with your questions and comments in advance by calling 210-615-8982.

Jan Ross Piedad is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.