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Relating to rules for fixing the amount of bail, to the release of certain defendants on a bail bond or personal bond, to related duties of certain officers taking bail bonds and of a magistrate in a criminal case, to charitable bail organizations, and to the reporting of information pertaining to bail bonds.
Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for SB 21, Committee Report 1st House, Substituted: a negative impact of ($11,238,738) through the biennium ending August 31, 2023.
The bill would make no appropriation but could provide the legal basis for an appropriation of funds to implement the provisions of the bill.
SB 21 would make certain changes to the bail system. If a defendant is charged with an offense while released on bail for a previous offense, only the court before whom the case for the previous offense is pending would be able to release the defendant on bail. It would prohibit personal bonds for defendants charged with committing an offense while released on bail for a previous violent offense or who have been convicted of a previous violent offense. When deciding bail, judges and magistrates would have to consider whether the offense involves violence and whether it was directed against a peace officer. They would also be required to consider the criminal history of the defendant, any prior failures to appear in court, and their citizenship status. An indigent defendant would be permitted to file an affidavit stating their inability to pay.
SB 21 would require the Office of Court Administration to create a standard form for setting bail. A person setting bail for a defendant would have to use the form. The Department of Public Safety would have to provide training to each magistrate, judge, sheriff, peace officer, or jailer required to obtain criminal history record information on completing that requirement effectively. Judges and magistrates authorized to set bail would have to complete continuing education on setting bail in criminal cases. The Office of Court Administration would have to publish information on bail bonds reported to them by county clerks.
SB 21 would create regulations for charitable bail organizations. Eligible charitable bail organizations would be required to file various affidavits to the county clerk and sheriff of each county they operate in. They would only be permitted to pay bonds for indigent defendants who are not charged with a violent offense and have not been previously convicted of a violent offense.
The Texas bail system
is in serious need of major reform. While the reforms proposed by this bill
would be a minor improvement over the status quo, they fall short of correcting
the serious deficiencies in the system. Since it is a step in the right
direction, we support SB 21.