Your chances of getting incarcerated in Harris County are high, but there’s also a big chance you’ll be exonerated

Members of the media gather outside the Harris County Court House to cover the trial of Yolanda Saldivar Monday, Oct. 9, 1995, in Houston. Saldivar is charged with the murder of Tejano music star Selena. Jury selection started Monday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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Most of the time, routine traffic stops won’t result in your arrest.

But given that it does happen, e.g. Sandra Bland in Waller County, you may be interested to know some context on the big business that is bail bonds around town.

RELATED: Sandra Bland’s family sues state trooper, wants answers

Currently, the Texas Fair Defense Project is engaged in federal litigation alleging the bail system in Harris County is unconstitutional because decisions on whether to hold someone in jail are based on their income and socioeconomic status.

The Chronicle reports that, generally, indigent defendants – persons requiring a public defender paid for by the city – are denied personal bonds by the county, which are bonds that carry a financial penalty for failure to reappear for a court date after release.

Relatedly, there are usually more than 1,500 people awaiting trial in an overcrowded jail for mere misdemeanor offenses in Houston.

However, legislation introduced in the Texas House and Senate this week could change this situation.

The proposal would require judges to take a closer look at an incarcerated person and use a risk assessment tool to determine if they could qualify for a personal bond, instead of denying based on financial situations for minor crimes.

This legislation could save the city over $1 million in public defense fees, and Houston is already good at taking a closer look at things.

Last week, the Texas Tribune reported on a new study that found Harris County leads the nation in exonerations of convicted criminals.

RELATED: A man wrongly convicted of murder 4 decades ago is finally free

Jury’s out on exactly why almost 50 people were released last year, but evidence points to careful re-investigation of evidence, regardless of race, of the wrongly accused, which is inconsistent with trends across the rest of the country.

A bit contradictory, but anything to help keep another 1,100 people from dying in custody in Texas this year.

What do you think?

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