HOUSTON – Two prominent Houston area state senators told KPRC 2 Investigates addressing the issue of bond reform will be a priority in the upcoming legislative session. Both said they want to see an end to suspected criminals being repeatedly released on bond.
“This is terrible public policy. It’s terrible safety for the public. I think it’s abhorrent judicial practices,” said State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston. “It just has to stop, the public won’t stand for it.”
Bettencourt said he is working on a law to prevent people from being released from jail on multiple personal bonds. These bonds do come with monetary amounts attached, but a defendant does not have to put any money toward the bond to be released. Fees associated with personal bonds can be charged or waived and conditions can be set, such as GPS monitoring.
Judges and criminal justice reform advocates have long argued, except in capital murder cases, that a bond is a constitutional right and it is unfair to hold a person in jail until their trial simply because they cannot afford bond. Bettencourt argues granting a person multiple personal bonds provides no incentive for compliance.
“This is not what anybody thought was supposed to be a part of bond reform,” said Bettencourt.
On Aug. 4, Ashton Broussard, 30, was killed during a confrontation with a Houston police officer. Broussard was accused of disarming a security guard and then pointing that gun at a police officer when he was shot.
Court records show Broussard was released on a personal bond on July 21 after being charged with assault. Broussard was then arrested and charged with criminal mischief and escape but was again released on personal bonds on July 27 under the condition his whereabouts would be monitored by GPS.