Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation applauded the passage of the Damon Allen Act, strong legislation that will improve public safety, keep dangerous criminals off the streets, and prevent low-risk offenders from sitting in jail simply because they cannot afford bail.
Currently, magistrates throughout Texas often lack the information they need to successfully determine a defendant’s risk to the public. The law improves training for magistrates, increases transparency in the pretrial system, and provides magistrates with more information when making bail decisions. It bans cashless releases for violent offenders and those accused of sexual offenses, while giving greater flexibility to consider bail options for low-level offenders.
“Texas has a reputation as a national model for improving public safety through effective criminal justice reform, and pretrial reform is no different” says Right on Crime’s Brett Tolman. “Many states are watching Texas in anticipation of the full passage of the Damon Allen Act. It is critical this bill receives full support from the legislature to ensure Texas continues to lead on this important issue.”
“The Damon Allen Act is the first step in protecting communities across our state,” says TPPF board member Doug Deason. “By providing magistrates with the data necessary to make informed release decisions, we can start to base our pretrial system on individual factors and accountability measures, rather than financial capacity. We are grateful Gov. Abbott has prioritized this issue, and we commend Sen. Huffman and Rep. Smith for championing this legislation.”
“It’s disappointing that SJR 3, the accompanying constitutional amendment that would expand judges’ ability to deny bail in dangerous cases, failed to pass,” said Nikki Pressley, Texas State Director for TPPF’s Right on Crime. “This means legislators voted ‘against’ a bill, which they voted ‘in favor of’ during the regular session, in a political tug-of-war over bail reform. We will continue working on this issue, keeping in mind the goal of a pretrial system based on risk, rather than ability to pay.”