Houston City Council Member Raises Concerns Over Bail Bond Debate
January 12, 2023
The issue of bonding out criminal defendants is a hot-button topic in local politics right now, and a Houston council member is now jumping into the fray.
On Friday, council member and former bondsman Michael Kubosh announced he is filing judicial grievances against all the Harris County District Court judges. Standing in front of several pastors and holding a list of 156 murder victims, Kubosh alleged that the victims were all killed by suspects who were out on low bonds for pending felonies.
Professor Howard Henderson, who is the founding director of the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University, said just as it would be unfair to blame bondsmen for bailing people out, it would be also unfair to blame judges for setting bonds.
"It's very easy to blame one individual, right? Instead of understanding, this is a system, where many individuals are participating in the process," said Henderson, who has done extensive research in the area.
Henderson said the issue of bonding has become politicized, much like abortion or critical race theory. In reality, the justice system involves many moving parts, including law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, bondsmen, judges, and other individuals. No one part shoulders all the blame.
"When you look at what's happening around the country and city of Houston," Henderson said. "Fear tends to guide the way which we see this."
Henderson points out that the Texas Constitution guarantees most people some type of bond. In addition, even at its most effective, the criminal justice system is reactionary, only kicking into gear after a crime has been convicted. Henderson said his research shows preventing crime involves getting to the root of what drives people to break the law in the first place.
"People are having to work harder for less money. Housing insecurity is rampant. Unemployment is where it is, people don't see any hope, they're frustrated. Gang violence is on the rise," he said. Adding all those factors plays a role in driving young people into criminal activity. And, once in the criminal justice system, finding a way out is often difficult.
Read Professor Henderson's research into what causes high crimes in cities on this website.
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