Houston police worried about revolving door of criminal justice

By Phil Archer - Reporter

HOUSTON - The Harris County District Attorney's Office is moving to revoke bond for two women charged with theft who had been given deferred adjudication on similar charges in November.

The decision to revoke bond came after the head of the Houston Police Officers Union complained to KPRC that the judicial system has become a revolving door for repeat offenders.

Carmen Ramirez and Jacquelin Partida were arrested Dec. 13 at Baybrook Mall for allegedly shoplifting hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise from stores like Victoria's Secret and Sephora, with their children in tow.

In spite of the women already being on deferred adjudication, after the latest charge, both were allowed to post a $500 bond and were released.

The case caused the police union to speak out.

The Houston Police Officers' Union President Ray Hunt says it's not supposed to work that way.

"We’re talking about stealing stuff, probably their Christmas gifts, while they’re on deferred adjudication. They get to the court and they get a $500 bond, which means, for $50, about what they get if they return one of these items to Victoria's Secret, they’re back on the street stealing again,” Hunt said.

Hunt said there’s another problem. He says Ramirez is in the country illegally.

"We’re not for deporting people simply because they’re here illegally, but when you’re here illegally and you’re violating our laws, multiple times ... To my knowledge, ICE wasn’t even contacted on this person,” Hunt said.

KPRC was not able to talk to the two women, but we did speak to Partida’s mother.

She said her daughter isn’t guilty, but had simply been with Ramirez when the items were stolen.

Hunt's complaint is clearly aimed at the prosecutors and judges who approve bonds for repeat offenders. He said it’s become a big problem for police.

“We’ve got lots of persons who are on bond, commit another offense, get another bond, commit another offense, get another bond,” He said. “It happens every day in the criminal justice system.”

In response to KPRC's inquiry, the Harris County District Attorney's Office said it will move to revoke the womens' bond.

Late Tuesday, Trial Bureau Chief David Mitcham sent out a written statement saying:

“Judges set bail, as the setting of bail in criminal cases is a judicial function. As a result of these recent charges, the district attorney’s office is filing motions for the judge to revoke the defendant’s probation and put them in jail.”

Left unsaid is that the prosecutors are supposed to be aware of a defendant's criminal history at the time bond is set, and advise the judge if they believe a higher bond is warranted.

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