Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Bail reform saves lives, "The Ogg Blog," pay-per-surveillance, and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention:

Kim Ogg oppo blog launched
The Justice Collaborative has launched The Ogg Blog, providing background on various criticisms vs. embattled Harris County DA Kim Ogg as she faces a bevy of opponents in the coming March primary. Grits is grateful; I'd intended to compile a long, greatest-hits post for Ogg as a bookend to this one about Travis County DA Margaret Moore, so they've saved me the trouble.

Bexar County Jail deaths argue for bail reform
At the Texas Observer, Michael Barajas examines recent deaths in the Bexar County Jail, a topic which  led the Express-News recently to call for an audit. At root, the problems implicate a broken bail system that incarcerates low-risk defendants because they don't have money: "Don’t lose sight of the broad strokes," admonished the Express-News. "Three defendants in their 60s. All charged with criminal trespass. All given nominal cash bonds that kept them incarcerated pretrial. All dead in our jail. All of this in the span of about a year." But local judges, including one who ran a bail-bond company before ascending to the bench, have consistently opposed any move toward reforming bail processes.

To be clear, despite plaintive cries that bail reform will harm public safety, the real reason bail-bond companies oppose reform is all about preserving their anachronistic business model. Continuing to subsidize this industry in the 21st century is akin to subsidizing buggy whip manufacturers in the 20th: Their time has passed.

Fact checking the Governor on homeless policies
PolitiFact fact-checked Governor Greg Abbott on his claims about Austin's homeless. Guess how he fared?

Levin on reducing Big-D murder rate
Marc Levin from Right on Crime appeared on the Point of View podcast to discuss Dallas' plan to reduce its murder rate.

Google wants to begin charging law enforcement for requests for location information and other user data. The big telecoms already do so.

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