Explicating the report Grits linked to here, the Monitor reports ("Fewer jail days given for misdemeanor charges, says study," July 9):
The report says the average days from arrest to dismissal of a misdemeanor case was 32.6 days for the two-year period ending in January. Gonzalez says that since January his office has been able to on average process cases in 16.6 days. ...At $40 per day, reducing by half the average time misdemeanor defendants sit in jail awaiting trial saves a big chunk of change, especially at a big jail like in Hidalgo County. Creating a public defender office is one of several promising initatives being tried by Texas counties to reduce jail overcrowding without building more jail cells. These results argue it's one that should be replicated.
If his office continues to reduce the time a defendant spends in jail, [Gonzalez] hopes he can convince the county to let him take on bond-reduction hearings for felony cases. Those hearings, according to the report, do not happen enough in the county and often bond is set way too high. The higher the bond the less likely that an indigent client can pay his way out of jail, leading to overcrowded jails.
See these related Grits posts:
- Grits' best practices to reduce county jail overcrowding
- Bail policies juice Tarrant jail overcrowding
- Does Tarrant County need a public defender?
- Why are Texas county jails overcrowded? Pretrial detention
- New Austin PD office will represent mentally ill
- Tyler's alternatives to jail overcrowding
- "Cite and summons" for small offenses would reduce jail overcrowding