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City of Houston bail bonds release time slower now

Posted by on in Houston Bail Bond Information!
City of Houston bail bonds are handled differently now than in the way that they have been for years. The release time now is slower than in the past.

This is obviously not a good change for those trying to get someone out of jail.

The City of Houston bail bonds process has changed for both city municipal bonds and Harris County criminal bonds. The release time to get someone out of the city jail has gone from 1 hour to 6 or more hours for Harris County bail bonds. The release time for City of Houston bail bonds has gone from 1 hour to as much as 24 hours.

First let's take a look at Harris County cases.

A formal complaint is filed with the Harris County District Attorney's Office. This process is usually between 8 and 12 hours from beginning to end. The City time frame for release can't begin until this process is finished.

The release of someone charged with a Harris County offense is processed at 49 San Jacinto. This too is a long process.

Harris County places a hold on the person in jail. This is done so that they are not transferred to the Harris County Jail.

The bail bond and the release form are taken to the City jail and the person is released from jail. This process took one hour for many years.

I posted a bail bond this way last night around four o'clock in the evening. I was told at the City Jail that the person in jail still had a hold placed on them.

The person was in jail for a first offense misdemeanor DWI.

The accident division at the Houston Police Department is where the paperwork is processed for all DWI cases. This is the department responsible for releasing the hold. Until this hold is released by the accident division the person in jail can not be released.

The person had not been involved in an accident. This was a pretty standard run of the mill case.

A formal complaint was filed with District Attorney Intake as usual. Eight hours later the bail bond information was available as usual. My bond was posted at Harris County as usual. And, a hold was placed at the City as usual. So in theory everything had been done and all that was left was to take it to the City Jail.

I was told he is still on hold and 6 hours after that my bond was finally accepted.

A lot of paperwork flows through the City of Houston Police Department and these things take time. What I do not understand is why that time frame has changed so drastically.

Now let's take a look at City of Houston bail bonds.

This use to be a much simpler process because all paperwork was handled directly by the Houston Police Department.

The person in jail was arrested for an already existing warrant so manpower was needed to get people in and out of jail. That's it, end of explanation.

Now let's take a look at what has changed over the years to affect the jail release process of both City of Houston bail bonds and Harris County bail bonds.

The time frame of getting out of the Harris County Jail has progressed from about 6 hours to about 24 hours through the years. This too seemed to be a quick change many years ago but at least it came with some understanding. I'm not suggesting the change was a good one, only that it is understandable. I would also like to say that it is explainable but honestly for me that would be a stretch.

The process over 30 years ago was mostly paper flow and manpower. A person went to jail and once processed in they could be processed out if a bail bond was posted.

Part of the problem is still in all likelihood manpower. Paper flow has been replaced by technology.

Harris County began to utilize a new government bureaucracy known as Harris County Pre-trial release many years ago. This may be a part of the slowdown. This agency was originally set up to help the poor. The mentality was that bail should be fair to all and that if a person is truly indigent then they should not be imprisoned while awaiting trial because they are poor. I agree with this because it is fair logic.

In all fairness to me, I am in the bail bond business so for me this meant less business and that’s never a good thing. Naturally we have always felt that bail should guarantee that a person will appear in court. Bail bondsmen nationwide have a pretty good track record of being able to get people to court. And, we will argue that we do a better job than government.

In all fairness to government, elected officials are paid to govern and criminal justice is an ever changing social concern. If the status quo isn't working well, or there is a belief that improvements can be made that benefit society as a whole, then it is their job to try.

This is a different argument so I'm not going to go into detail. However, I do believe this is part of why the release process has gotten slower.

Release time began to slow down in part because of this new bureaucracy. Now when a person is arrested instead of being processed in so that they can then be processes out they are sidetracked to a pre-trial release employee. Information is taken by the pre-trial release employee. This information is given to a judge in a 24 hour court in the jail.

This then brings up the next new installment of bureaucracy, a 24 hour court in the jail. The creation of this court is to serve several purposes. Those purposes are to determine probable cause, to accept pleas of guilty, to oversee bond amount and adjust it either up or down or leave it the same, and to release people from jail through a government form of bail. I believe this too is a part of the change that contributes to a slower release process.

I’m not certain why this extra court was needed but my understanding is that it exists to guarantee that a person arrested will go before a judge within 24 hours of being incarcerated. I believe this came about because of issues surrounding jail overcrowding.

Legal minds will say this is the law and the court is there to protect the accused. This may be true, I'm not a lawyer so what do I know? Those incarcerated in Harris County have always gone before a judge within 24 hours since I've been in the bail bond business and long before this court was created. Perhaps the problem was taking place in other parts of the state so remedies were put in place statewide. Nevertheless, when you add to the process of release it slows down the process of release.

So, in unraveling why it takes much longer to get out of jail now than it did in the past at least a part of the equation is 2 extra stops on the way into the Harris County Jail, a government pre-trial release employee and a probable cause court. And possibly, there's not enough manpower at District Attorney Intake.

This is some kind of possible explanation as to why jail release has gotten slower over the years at the Harris County Jail. But, it still doesn’t explain what has happened at the City Jail.

Concerning county bail bonds and slower release at the city jail my guess is that there is not enough manpower. I think there has been plenty of discussion through the years about the need for more manpower and resources. However,It seems like if enough time has gone by for the process at the County then that same time should be enough for the City to do their job.

A change took place several years ago concerning manpower. The police department was unhappy with the change and claimed they needed more help not less. I believe slower release has been the outcome ever since. The problem is that it keeps getting even slower. I don't do the hiring and firing at HPD but something needs to be done.

Besides the extra wait time for those charged with Harris County offenses the City of Houston has also changed the way they release municipal detainees.

This process for most of my years in the bail bond business took between 2 and 4 hours from incarceration to release.

My understanding is that the City of Houston Municipal Court now controls the flow of the detainees. I have no idea why? Perhaps it has something to do with being taken in front of a judge within 24 hours like they do at the county. The release process has come to a crawl but the court process has become swift and efficient. A person arrested for a city class C misdemeanor warrant goes in front of a judge within hours of being booked into the jail.

Jail overcrowding continues to be a hot topic of discussion and it never seems to get better. Lawmakers are constantly given more input nationwide by criminal justice think tanks on what they feel the answers are for both the practical and social benefit to all.

So I am again thinking that this change has something to do with jail overcrowding.

Over time different solutions and changes have been implemented and will no doubt continue to be made and changed. Statistical data has and continues to be gathered to see if any of these changes are actually working for the practical and social benefit of all.

It just seems to me that part of the problem of jail overcrowding might be getting people out of jail timely.

On a sidebar and as a bail bondsman looking in from the outside I would like to address unintended or maybe intentional consequences that have come about because of these changes.

Getting someone out of jail as quickly as possible is and has always been important to my customers. I would think because of jail overcrowding some measure of importance for release time would be shared by government.

The people I get out of jail go to court and pay fines relating to their municipal court charges if they are found to be guilty. I would think some measure of importance concerning this once positive now negative income source would be given by government.

This efficiency of getting people to court quickly seems to have created little more than a very slow, very expensive revolving door. The cost of arresting, jailing, and adjudicating has skyrocketed while the fine income generated by government has spiraled down to nothing for those incarcerated.

If in fact these courts are jail overcrowding remedies they have slowed down the process considerably. And, if the remedy is to simply sweep things under the rug then one has to ask why prosecute these cases at all?

A fairly substantial increase in manpower is needed to accommodate all of this new bureaucracy and efficiency. The cost for this bureaucracy and efficiency is paid for in part by revenue generated from the revenue source that has been eliminated.

A major part of the remedy should be release efficiency as well. A huge percentage of people incarcerated for class c misdemeanor offenses would prefer to get out of jail quickly rather than sit in jail for 24 hours or more with no possibility of release because they must first be taken in front of a judge.

It is possible to try and make bail for City of Houston bail bonds but the window of opportunity to do so is very narrow and the efficiency of this process is that of inconsistency and confusion. At a minimum these detainees should be placed into a fast track of release first. A few hours of bail possibilities should exist before the minutia of court and court updates prevent them from making bail.
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