Victim advocate blames rising Houston murder rate on bond reform

Friday, November 20, 2020
Victims' advocate blames bond reform for homicide increases
As Houston's homicide rate spikes in 2020, famililes who have lost loved ones to violent crimes have to wait in limbo for those incidents to be solved.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A rising murder rate in the city of Houston is due, in part, to what Houston Crime Stopper's victim advocate Andy Kahan called a "bond pandemic."

Kahan pointed to murder suspects who were out of jail on bond on previous charges of violent crimes.

"What we are seeing and what we're trying to get people to talk about is the revolving door at the courthouse that continues to release offenders time and time again," Kahan said. "This is collateral damage of what we're seeing in bond reform."

ABC13 reached out to three criminal court judges following this claim, and they all responded no comment.

Kahan's comments came during a briefing on the rising numbers from Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.

In 2020, murder is up more than 46% in Houston, not just because of well-known days with multiple killings, but because nearly every day brings at least one more.

Acevedo said on Friday the rising rates are a phenomena that extend beyond the city and have been an issue across the country.

RELATED: 13 Investigates: How nearly 350 murders this year impacts victims and solving crimes

Murders with a known crime element are up significantly, including gang crime and narcotics-related killings, Acevedo said.

In 2020, documented gang members have accounted for 57 of the homicide victims in Houston, according to the statistics compiled by HPD.

Drug-related crimes were also a significant number of the murders, while murders related to domestic violence have increased.

Road rage incidents that have ended in the death of someone involved were up slightly as well.

The Houston Police Department's homicide division has just two additional detectives more than what it had in 2018 when there were at least 83 fewer killings. The division's Special Investigative Unit, which investigates officer-involved shootings, has added seven detectives.

SEE ALSO: 3 killed, 2 injured in 4 separate Houston-area shootings overnight

Houston police chief Art Acevedo gave a lengthy briefing about the rising murder rates and who's involved in these tragedies. A crime victim advocate blames part of the increase on what he called the 'revolving courthouse door'. Here's the full briefing.

Chief Acevedo said the department has added new initiatives to put more officers in high crime areas, and he asked the attorney general to help with their case load.

"We're not going to make excuses. We're going to continue to do our very best to make a difference," Acevedo said. "But it starts with the community, and it continues to law enforcement, and it goes to the D.A., and it goes to the prosecutors. It goes to the judges. The courts. Then, we have to look at the parole system as well."

INTERACTIVE: Explore the map below for information on each homicide. The blue dots represent murders in 2019 and the red dots are murders this year. On mobile device? Click here for a full screen experience.

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