Harris County’s wrong-on-crime bail policies allow defendants to go free with little to no accountability
Early this November, Hafeez Qureshi, a Houston-area father and grandfather, was working at a local food store when he was murdered by a group of four men amid a store robbery. According to records from the Harris County District Clerk’s Office, two of the four perpetrators — Melvin Jones and Daivion Gully — were out on personal recognizance (PR) bonds for other crimes at the time of Qureshi’s murder.
“The senseless murder of Hafeez Qureshi is yet another example of a heinous crime committed by a defendant who was out of jail on personal recognizance with virtually no accountability,” said Mark Miner, a spokesperson for the Texas Alliance for Safe Communities. “How many innocent lives must be taken before the State of Texas realizes the tragic consequences of California-style bail reforms? Something must be done to protect the safety of our communities and prevent our jails from turning into revolving doors — before it’s too late.”
PR bonds are an unsecured form of pretrial release that allow defendants to be released completely unsupervised from jail with little more than their signature and a promise to show back up for court. These bonds, which have become more frequent in use as a result of sweeping reforms made to Harris County’s bail system, have led to a massive uptick in failure-to-appear rates, as defendants are rarely held accountable to show back up for court. Harris County’s experimentation with their bail system have led to a massive uptick in failure-to-appear rates, with almost 50% of defendants failing to appear for court after being granted unsecured bonds.
Melvin Jones was released on a PR bond on August 2, 2018 after evading arrest. Records show there was an active warrant for his arrest after failing to appear in court on August 10, 2018.
Daivion Gully was also out on a PR bond for possession of a controlled substance at the time of the murder. Like Jones, Gully had active warrants for evading arrest. His original PR bond was issued on June 14, 2018, with Jones later forfeiting the bond on June 21, 2018.