What kind of inmates are being released from county jails

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and Houston-area legislators are joining those voicing concerns about who is getting low bonds during the pandemic and getting out of jail, even before the county starts releasing hundreds of inmates.

"We're putting women at risk. We're putting families at risk," said Chief Acevedo.

ABC13 found bonds as low as $1, $10, $300, and $500 this week for crimes that normally equate to $1000 or $20,000 bonds. Some of the defendants getting them have violent criminal histories.

Thursday, the low bonds continued.

Shantelle Veal, 22, is accused of trying to run over her boyfriend, twice. When that did not work, she allegedly grabbed a golf club and assaulted him. Her bond was set at $4500, even with a prior assault on her record. It's a crime that would normally be thousands more.

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Police chief not happy about inmates being released on low bonds.

Anthony Brewer, without seeing a judge, had his bond lowered to $101 on an assault, bodily injury charge.

Wednesday night, ABC13 reported on Kelvin Hawthorne, 18, who is accused of punching and choking his girlfriend. Tuesday, a judge granted him a $100 bond. He paid $10, had to agree to bond conditions and was released from jail.

"$10 bail for felony domestic violence? For choking out a woman in the middle of this pandemic. Think about it, you're now a woman sitting at home that is thinking about calling the police. Thinking about a magistrate or a judge letting your abuser out on a $10 bail. That's something that law enforcement will be talking about, and it won't just be me," said Acevedo.
Acevedo supports compassionate release of certain inmates and is awaiting the start of that process. Three inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. Hundreds more are in quarantine. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an order mandating the release of hundreds of inmates that fit certain criteria.

Defense attorney John Cucci represents Robert Warner, 40, who is accused of having someone else's identification.

"He's pretrial so because he's only accused, I would like to get him out. There's risk in the jail, and as you know, there are others in there," Cucci said. "They are all scared. Every inmate I've talked to. They are very scared and they don't know what's going to happen in the confinement of the jail."

Whether it's by low bonds or vetting low risk detainees, Republican Senator Paul Bettencourt and six other legislators have joined those speaking out against jail releases.

"This is a real problem. While County Judge Lina Hidalgo can say the jail is a ticking time bomb, we're going to have a crime bomb in Harris County," said Bettencourt.

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