Dozens of low-level inmates being released from Harris Co. jail under new no-cash bail system

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Edward Gonzales says the fence was already down when he arrived to help his friend move.

But sheriff’s deputies didn’t take it that way, and the 38-year-old construction worker was arrested Monday on misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief and trespassing.

He’s sat in jail ever since because he couldn’t make the $500 cash bond – until Wednesday morning, when a court-ordered new bail system allowed him to be released on a personal bond for promising to appear in court.

“It feels good to come out,” he said. The new no-cash bail system, “helps a lot.”

Gonzales – no relation to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – was among more than a dozen people released on personal bonds overnight, with more than 70 people expected to be released in the coming hours, according to the sheriff’s office.

Overall, about 100 misdemeanor defendants – who have no felony charges or extensive criminal histories, and no other reasons to be held in jail except that they can’t afford to post cash bail – should be released under the new system, according to Jason Spencer, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

The new rules followed a decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday rejecting an appeal by Harris County to stop a judge’s order that the county begin releasing indigent low-level defendants on personal bonds.

 The county has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but local officials will begin releasing inmates anyway to comply with the order from Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal in Houston.

Story is developing. Stay tuned.


1 Houston

Houston News & Search

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