"Somebody Cares": TX Group Continues Bail-Reform Battle
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
This week, members of Faith in Texas will be at the Dallas County Jail, as they are most Fridays. As the state's incarceration rate grows, the group is making its case for cash-bail reform by freeing people from jail who are unable to post their own bail. The group says the bail system discriminates against low-income people.
Rosarious White, who went to jail for property theft, said he didn't know how long he would be incarcerated - or even if he would receive bail. White said he is grateful for the assistance because "it shows that somebody cares about you, and it makes you want to care about yourself."
Since his release, he said, the organization has helped him find a job and get back to his everyday life. People who qualify to have their bail paid must not have any legal holds or aggravated charges. Some 55,000 individuals are in Texas jails.
Faith in Texas said it budgets $10,000 to $15,000 a month for this project, and has paid the bail for 31 people since last July. Mark Walters Jr., the group's bail-fund organizer, said the turnover rate has been small: So far, only one person has missed a court date and one more is back in jail. Walters said people sometimes are referred by the public defender's office or family members.
"A means to an end; our ultimate goal is for bail to not even be an issue in some degree," he said. "We've bailed out individuals who have been in 30, 60, 90 days on a $1 bond."
He pointed out that it costs the county a lot more to incarcerate someone than to release them on bond.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, more than 700,000 people are locked up in Texas. The highest percentage are Black, followed by Hispanic. Walters said the group plans to continue its fight against bail policies it sees as discriminatory by expanding services to other Texas counties, with the help of partners on a larger scale.
"No one entity can do it all," he said, "so how are we putting individual, organizational self-interest kind of on the back burner and really leaning into those collaborative partnerships."
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