29 March 2020 – Executive Order bans the release of inmates on no-cost personal bonds

Type of Intervention: Executive Order
Sectors Involved: Civil Defence, Corrections/Justice
Intervention Categories: Legal and policy; Regulatory change
Level of Jurisdiction: Texas
Lead People/Agency: Governor of the State of Texas

Overview: Gregg Abbott issued executive order relating to county and municipal jail detention. Specifically, banning the release of inmates on no-cost personal bonds.
Full details here: https://gov.texas.gov/uploads/files/press/EO-GA-13_jails_and_bail_for_COVID-19_IMAGE_03-29-2020.pdf

Type of Justification: Perception of an increased threat
Evidence/Justification: Quote from Governor Abbott:
The jail population in Texas presents unique challenges in mitigating against and responding to the spread of COVID- 19; and my office has worked with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and with state and local officials to address these challenges while ensuring public safety for all Texans; and several counties are now reportedly considering the broad-scale release of arrested or jailed individuals as a result of COVID-19, including potentially those who have committed felonies, in order to reduce the size of the jail population; and such releases from county or municipal jails of those charged with, convicted of, or having a history of offenses involving physical violence or threats of physical violence would not only gravely threaten public safety, but would also hinder efforts to cope with the COVID-19 disaster; and , a statewide standard is needed to avoid disparate release policies or practices that may endanger the public safety of Texans; and , the Texas Judicial Council has recently reminded judges that individuals who pose a significant risk to the community or the victim, or who present a significant risk of flight, should be detained, and Texas judges are legally required and oath-bound to determine bail on an individualized basis after considering the factors mandated by Article 17.15 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which does not include the option of releases based solely on concerns or fears surrounding COVID-19.