Alleged suspect was twice released on personal recognizance.
Pasadena, Texas Police Chief Josh Bruegger has released a video blasting Harris County’s dangerous pretrial release policy. Earlier this month, Jakouri Jones allegedly committed a series of armed robberies in Pasadena, and shot at a witness and his children. The 230th District Court judge in Harris County released Jones on personal recognizance (PR) twice in one week, allowing him to continue his crime spree.
Chief Bruegger issued this op-ed in the Houston Chronicle.
“Our officers worked diligently to capture this suspect, endangering their own lives. I’m disappointed that the judge of the 230th District Court here in Harris County issued a PR bond to a suspect accused of multiple violent felonies, while also being out on a previous PR bond for being in possession of a firearm,” Chief Bruegger said. “Essentially in this case the suspect— who’s facing multiple life sentences—was allowed to walk out of the jail by just his signature guaranteeing his promise to appear in court at a later date.”
According to the Pasadena Police Department, Jones allegedly committed two armed robberies in Pasadena on January 4. He was arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm on January 6 and released on personal recognizance. Jones then allegedly committed two more robberies in Pasadena on January 13, and was again released on personal recognizance.
“Harris County has an obligation to keep its citizens safe but it is failing, and as a result, recklessly endangering families and law enforcement. This criminal shot at, and could have killed, a child,” Roberto Garcia, victims liaison with the Texas Alliance for Safe Communities (TASC), said. “This is no longer simply about pretrial release for individuals who can’t afford bail, it’s about turning a blind eye to violent criminals who terrorize our communities. We must demand accountable pretrial release policies from Harris County and from the Texas Legislature.”
Release on personal recognizance allows a defendant to sign their name and walk out of jail with nothing more than a promise to appear for their court hearings, without any oversight or accountability. Judges can also require surety bonds, essentially a deposit ensuring the defendant will show up in court.
Most jail detainees seeking release will need supervision, monitoring and a support system to ensure they will appear for future court dates and will not slip into a pattern of future crimes. Programs that provide blanket, unsupervised release, such as the one recently implemented in Harris County and such as proposals being discussed by the Texas Legislature this session, do a tremendous disservice to both the criminal defendant and our communities.
Harris County’s dangerous bail reform experiment appears to ignore the need for pretrial intervention in the cycle of crime. Texas needs a proactive and responsive criminal justice system—not a permissive and neglectful one.
TASC is a non-profit coalition of public safety advocates committed to promoting responsible public policies that strengthen security and curb violent crime in Texas. TASC advocates for principled criminal justice solutions that ensure accountability in the criminal justice system and keep Texas communities the safest place to live, work, and raise a family.