Gov. Abbott signs Texas' new bail reform law in Houston

Nick Natario Image
Monday, September 13, 2021
Gov. Abbott signs Texas' new bail reform law in Houston
State officials have seen an uptick in new crimes being committed by suspects out on bond for other crimes. Abbott hopes Senate Bill 6 will help stop that.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Gov. Greg Abbott was in Houston Monday morning to sign Texas' new bail law intended to "fix the broken bail system and keep dangerous criminals behind bars," according to the governor.

SEE RELATED STORY: Bail reform listed as special legislative session priority by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Senate Bill 6, also called the Damon Allen Act, eliminates PR bonds for violent offenses. That's when a suspect does not have to put up any cash to get out of jail.

The law is named after a state trooper who was killed on Thanksgiving in 2017 during a traffic stop. The gunman, Dabrett Black, who had a history of violence against law enforcement, was out on bond for other crimes.

MORE: Who is the suspect in Texas DPS trooper's murder?

"The magistrate who was considering bail for the person who killed Damon Allen did not have access to the criminal history that could have kept him behind bars," said Abbott during a briefing Monday.

Currently, the ability of a defendant to post cash determines most Texas jail releases, but some jurisdictions - particularly in Harris County after losses in federal court - have recently shifted to releasing more people accused of low-level crimes without requiring money.

In the new bill, judges must also take a suspect's criminal past into consideration before setting bail.

Abbott and other Republicans, along with crime victims and their supporters, have pushed for the bail legislation, saying it is needed to keep dangerous people behind bars before their trials. They have pointed to rising crime rates and numerous examples of defendants accused of violent crimes being released on bond and then accused of new crimes.

The new bill was an emergency item that Abbott said he set during the regular legislative session. He said that because the Democrats broke quorum during the session, the bail reform bill did not get across the finish line.

WATCH: Why people are getting out on so many bonds

It's become too familiar. People are out on several bonds and continue racking up charges, leaving more potential victims in their path. ABC13 took a look into how it's happening.

Kacey Allen, Damon's widow, was also present at the briefing.

"The murderer still went to jail, and my life and my kids' lives were forever changed by actions that can't be taken back," she said. "It's been an honor to help work on this bill."

She said she hopes this new legislation shows that the state supports officers.

"Many people in the world see law enforcement not as people who are trying to help but as the enemy," she added.

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