AUSTIN – Twenty-four prominent Texas leaders sent a letter to all members of the Texas House of Representatives urging them to support House Bill 20, The Damon Allen Act, which will be on the House Floor today. The Act, introduced by Chairman Murr in close collaboration with Governor Abbott and Chairwoman Collier, would ensure communities are safe by prioritizing a defendant’s risk rather than their financial means.

The letter, signed by Texas leaders engaged in criminal justice reform representing business, victims, and communities of faith, states:

“We would like to thank Governor Abbott, Chairman Murr, and Chairwoman Collier for their outstanding collaboration on House Bill 20. Their ability to unite and find common ground on this emergency item is an inspiring act of leadership. As we analyze this legislation, it is apparent Chairman Murr has spent a substantial amount of time working with all stakeholders to create a comprehensive, practical, and compassionate solution to our state’s broken pre-trial system.”

It goes on to outline why this bill will make Texans safer:

“Specifically, by including the use of a pre-trial public safety assessment tool, House Bill 20 has set the precedent that pre-trial reform must prioritize a defendant’s risk, rather than their financial means. The inclusion of this tool is imperative to the success of pre-trial reform efforts in Texas. Just as legislators use additional resources such as bill analyses and fiscal notes prior to voting on legislation, magistrates should have access to research-based tools to inform—but not dictate—their pre-trial release decisions.”

It closes by saying:

“As this legislation moves to the House Floor, we are hopful that members will look to Chairman Murr for leadership on this bill, as he has been a thoughtful and diligent author. We are confident that the passage of House Bill 20 will bring us one step closer to maintaining Texas’s reputation as a national model for improving public safety through effective criminal justice reform.”

The full text of the letter is available here.