SAN ANTONIO — Recent violence against San Antonio police could lead to bail bond reform. The last five shootings involving police have renewed conversations about public safety.
In one of the shootings on August 24, police said Jesse Garcia, a man out on two bonds, shot at several officers, seriously hurting two.
During a press conference on September 9, District Attorney Joe Gonzales said it was up to lawmakers to change the way our state’s bail bond system operates.
“It is the legislature that is the appropriate forum for a discussion on changing the bail bond,” Gonzales said.
Representatives Steve Allison (TX-121) and John Lujan (TX-118), both Republicans, said they have sent letters to Governor Greg Abbott, asking he include bond reform on the next special session agenda.
They said the governor is expected to call a special session next month.
“I understand that the Governor wants to keep that just around the education issues and I think we’re perfectly capable of handling more than one issue in this special session and this one just screams for it,” Allison said. “You know the tragedies we’ve seen here; it’s not going to change unless we do something.”
Right now, with the way the bond system is set up, the district attorney’s office can recommend a bond, but it is up to the magistrate judge to set the amount for the bond. The purpose of bonds is to make sure defendants show up to court, not to keep people in jail.
Right now, there are limited circumstances in which a judge can deny bail.
“The ones we’re afraid of, such as those who were involved in these shootings, we need to treat differently,” Allison said.
Allison and Lujan could not say exactly how they would change the system. But Allison insisted he is already drafting up legislation. Lujan said whatever change comes, it should have support from both parties.
“I want this to be bipartisan, I want it be effective and I want it to be impactful for our community,” Lujan said.
However, he said the solution to this violence should not just fall on lawmakers.
“There has to be responsibility on the DA’ part to say, to at least stop and look, what are my processes in place? How do I fix this? And how do I make this better?” Lujan said. “Because honestly, it’s not working. Something they are doing is wrong.”
Both lawmakers said they are reaching out to SAPD to get a better idea of the issues they are facing to help come up with legislation. They agreed the forum the mayor and county judge plan to host regarding these recent shootings should be very telling.
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