After Adopting Pretrial System: 40% of Defendants Aren’t Showing Up To Court in Harris County
Harris County, Texas shows that more than 40 percent of defendants released by the sheriff under the court-mandated bonds, the Arnold Foundation pretrial release system, aren’t showing up to their hearings.
The laughable excuse by the supporters of the Arnold Foundation program is that, “these numbers are inflated because those released by the sheriff are often given wrong court dates upon their release from jail.” The next sets of excuses are going to be: they got the wrong address, their car broke down, their tummy hurts, they had a toothache, their dog ate the summons and so on.
County reports on misdemeanor bonds show the people released on these sheriff-issued bonds are less likely to show up to court. From June to October, 45 percent of those bonds were forfeited or revoked, almost always because the higher-risk defendants did not show up for court hearings.
Another problem with the Arnold Foundation pretrial release system is that in Harris County, virtually all those currently accused of a misdemeanor must be released from jail within 24 hours of their arrest, regardless of their financial ability to post bond.
In an , judges seemed skeptical of the injunction’s 24-hour deadline, especially because defendants sometimes have not yet seen a magistrate before that time – if inmates arrived to the Harris County jail from an outlying facility after 24 hours of their arrest and they hadn’t had their hearing yet, the sheriff was ordered to release them.