Travis County seeks changes over treatment of poor offenders
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Court officials in Travis County are modifying the way some misdemeanor cases are handled in the wake of complaints that poor defendants are pressured to accept bad plea deals in exchange for their release from jail.
Defense attorneys argue the court docket mirrors a bond system in Harris County that was declared illegal last year because it discriminated against poor people.
The Austin American-Statesman reports that each day about a dozen Travis County inmates have their misdemeanor cases heard. The inmates previously had their bond denied and couldn’t come up with the money to bail out. So their only options to get released are to wait months for trial or to plead guilty.
Officials this week are expected to launch a rebranded system giving inmates more options for release as their cases are processed.