Harris County DA’s Office disputes numbers showing low conviction rates

Non-profit says numbers come directly from courts

HOUSTON – The Texas Center for Justice and Equity, a group dedicated to ending “mass incarceration,” has crunched the numbers for dismissals and not guilty verdicts.

The results, in many crime categories, show shockingly low conviction rates for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in 2022.

Jay Jenkins, with TCJE, said Friday that the data comes directly from what Harris County District Courts report to the State of Texas.


Here is a brief synopsis:

- 70.83% of prostitution cases were not guilty/dismissal

- 62% of nonsexual assault were not guilty/dismissal

- 50% of burglary were not guilty/dismissal

- 67.9% of crimes against children were not guilty/dismissal

- 77.9% of kidnapping were not guilty/dismissal

- 55% of sexual assault were not guilty/dismissal

Murray Newman, who has not specifically examined these figures, but is the President of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association believes the Harris County DA’s office is both ineffective and inefficient.

“I think the big problem is they take a lot of charges that they can ultimately not prove at the end of the day, and the sad thing is that they are very reluctant to admit they can’t prove a case,” Newman said.

Harris County District Attorney’s Office Response

A representative for The Harris County District Attorney’s office, Friday, disputed the figures, without providing concrete figures of his own.

A public relations representative also did not provide alternative numbers Friday.

Nathan Beetle, a Bureau Chief, pointed out that the job of the DA’s office is not to nail down convictions, the purpose is to serve justice.

He provided examples where conviction rates might be low, but that doesn’t mean justice wasn’t served.

Defendants could be charged with multiple crimes, but sometimes only the biggest crime will be pursued for conviction, and the others might be dismissed. Justice would still be served with a lengthy jail sentence.

The issue of “diversion” was also noted by Beetle.

“I don’t think people understand. They equate a dismissal with an unsuccessful case. We consider it extremely successful where someone in our community has earned dismissal and eventually gets their record erased,” Beetle said.