Low Regard for those who profited from a system that forced the innocent to plead guilty

February 6, 2022
Friends – I read with interest City Council member Michael Kubosh’s recent condemnation of the release of the accused on PR Bonds.
Did he ever hold a press conference and read a list of the names of the many thousands of Houstonians who’s lives were forever stained by the systematic denial of  PR bonds?
For decades our courts systematically denied PR bonds.  Bail  bondsmen fought the granting of PR bonds. Why?  Simply put, the bondsmen profited from the systematic denial of PR bonds. They held a virtual monopoly on freedom. If the accused wanted out of jail their only way out was to hire a bondsman. The bail bond system was good for bail bondsmen but not for indigent Houstonians.
What happened to the many thousands of presumptively innocent accused indigent Houstonians who were denied a PR  bond and could not afford a bondsman?
Many thousands of Houstonians, particularly those charged with misdemeanors,  fell victim to what was called the “Plea Mill”. As there was no PR bond and they could not afford a bondsman, these poor Houstians were stuck in jail until their cases were resolved.
They would be taken to court and  they would be made an offer by the prosecutor.
The options were plead guilty today and get out of jail sooner or plead not guilty and await trial sometime in the  distant future. Facing a “Hobson’s Choice”, the vast majority of these poor Houstians were effectively cornered into pleading guilty. They would plead guilty to obtain their liberty. They would plead guilty, not because they were guilty but rather because it was the fastest way for these poor Houstonians to get out of jail.
While the “Plea Mill” existed, it’s reasonable to conclude that thousands of Houstonians plead guilty to crimes they did not commit.  These same Houstians  continue to carry the stain of a conviction they did not deserve for the entirety of their lives.
The Councilmember complains of PR bonds.  It’s a mistake to ignore the odious system that gave rise to the current granting
Of PR bonds.  In the evolution of the criminal justice system we should move forward, not backward.

Robb Fickman, Houston

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