Thank you Chair Collier, Vice Chair Zedler and the honorable members of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee for taking the time to consider my testimony on this important bill.
Putting into law the procedures required by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, as House Bill 3283 does, preserves critical accountability measures for criminal defendants while keeping our communities safe.
We can’t automate our criminal justice system—it takes involvement from family, a support system, counseling, and yes, sometimes time in jail to break the cycle of crime. Without this support system there is nothing holding defendants accountable for their actions.
This bill is far better than others being considered that completely overhaul the bail system in favor of a black box risk assessment tool. Tools like this are putting families at risk every day. Unfortunately, this tool is what led my son’s murderer to be out on the streets of New Jersey even though he had been arrested only days before for illegal possession of a weapon. He went on to kill my son in a drive-by shooting almost two years ago to the day. I often think that if it weren’t for that risk assessment tool, my son would still be here today.
Most conversations about criminal justice reform treat perpetrators as victims, rather than respecting the rights of true victims of these crimes. But House Bill 3283 makes good changes that will keep communities safe and preserves accountability measures for criminal defendants, while helping the criminal justice system work better. Please pass this critical bill. Thank you.
Victims’ Outreach Coordinator
Texas Alliance for Safe Communities
1350 CR 262
Georgetown, TX 78633