Houston Area Murder Renews Discussion About Bail Reform

As originally reported by Julian Gill of the Houston Chronicle, 22-year-old Alex Guajardo allegedly stabbed and killed his girlfriend after being released on personal bond for misdemeanor assault.  Guajardo was originally arrested for assaulting his pregnant girlfriend.  As reported by the Chronicle, Guajardo allegedly punched his girlfriend multiple times in the face.  After his arrest for assault he was released on personal bond.  Two days after his release, authorities believe he killed his girlfriend and their child.

Many opponents of bail reform have argued that releasing offenders on their own recognizance could be dangerous to victims of violent crimes.  Tragically, this is not the only occasion where a defendant released without bail goes on to commit another crime, even killing the victim they were originally arrested for assaulting.  Numerous law enforcement officials spoke out after the slaying against the system of bail reform implemented in Harris County.

As the article points out, it is unclear whether having Guajardo post bail would have prevented the killing.  But the system is failing – when a victim who should have been protected is killed two days after release on a personal bond – the system is failing.

In an effort to fight the inequities ever-present in our criminal justice system, counties across the nation have tried to abolish or severely limit cash bail opting for more offenders to be released on their own recognizance.  While inequities prevail throughout the criminal justice system, it is unclear that bail was ever the root of the problem.  Many people fear that not only will bail reform put more criminals back on the street quicker but that it may exacerbate the exact problems that it was designed to tackle in the first place.

Read the whole story “Pasadena slaying spotlights debate over bail reform”.


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