Our challenge to the money bail system in Harris County is the seminal challenge to the assembly line wealth-based detention that pervades local American courts.
The case challenges the automatic wealth-based detention of tens of thousands of impoverished people every year in Houston, Texas. In 2017, we put the Harris County money bail system on trial in federal court in Houston. The court considered hundreds of exhibits, thousands of videos, hundreds of thousands of records, and numerous live expert and factual witnesses over an eight-day evidentiary hearing. The Chief Judge of the federal court in Houston issued a 193-page ruling in favor of our indigent clients, holding that the Harris County cash bail system is unconstitutional. The Court dismantled the supposed factual and legal justifications for the wealth-based detention that exists all over the country.
As of June 2018, over 11,500 people had been released from the Harris County jail pursuant to the court’s preliminary injunction, and many more were released as a result of changed practices.