Judge gives final approval to Houston-area bail deal

6 months 5 days 12 hours ago Thursday, November 21 2019 Nov 21, 2019 November 21, 2019 7:18 PM November 21, 2019 in News - AP Texas Headlines

HOUSTON (AP) - A federal judge has given final approval to a settlement in a lawsuit over the bail system in Texas' most populous county which ensures that most people accused of misdemeanor offenses don't languish in jail.

The bail system in Harris County, where Houston is located, had been deemed unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal following a 2016 lawsuit alleging poor misdemeanor defendants stayed behind bars because of poverty.

In an opinion issued Thursday, Rosenthal wrote the settlement - announced in July - will help stop the county from “systematically depriving indigent misdemeanor defendants of their constitutionally-protected rights by detaining them simply because they cannot afford to post money bail.”

Some law enforcement officials argued the settlement doesn't do enough to ensure the safety of the public and crime victims.

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