Local law enforcement, representatives respond to bail reform plan

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Local law enforcement already backing up Gov. Greg Abbott’s proposal to change the Texas bail system.

The reform was announced Tuesday after a DPS trooper was killed in the line of duty by a repeat offender last Thanksgiving. The biggest changes involve keeping people in jail longer if they have an criminal history against law enforcement. 

Here in McLennan county, sheriffs say they come across repeat offenders everyday. They already have a plan in place to deal with this problem but say bail reform is long overdue.

“Very seldom are we encountering first time offenders that are out there,”  Sheriff Parnell McNamara said. “It’s a sad situation, you put them in jail and sometimes they get out before you get back to the office.”

It’s why they have a Fugitive Apprehension and Special Task team, also known as the FAST unit.
 
“These guys main goal, main effort is to track down people that are wanted, people that don’t show up for court, people that have been bonded out and keep committing crimes,” McNamara said.

Governor Abbott’s goal is keeping repeat offenders locked up.

Critics with the Texas Organizing Project say bail reform is an excuse to the poor locked up. 

“Some of the charges listed by Abbott such as evading police and assault on an officer are often used by police to harass people of color. It’s their word against the officers,” criminal justice director of TOP said in a statement. “The justice system rarely looks at why the officer stopped the person in the first place, and racial profiling remains our dirty secret.”

“The hardcore criminals that we go out after, I guarantee you they are out on bond, or out on parole.” McNamara says it could keep repeat criminals off the streets.

“I hope and pray that it gets the support to pass,” McNamara said. “There is no reason for it not to pass.” 

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