The Harris County Justice Administration Department (HCJAD) in Houston, Texas, will be paying suspected criminals $30. This is only if they take a survey disclosing information about why they missed their court date.
In an advertisement shared by HCJAD on its Facebook page, it targeted those who have misdemeanor cases and missed their court date. The advert says that if the suspected criminals take the 45-minute interview with their researchers, they will get $30. The survey aims to help these people show up as the interview will examine why they are struggling to appear during their court date.
The interviews started on July 26 and will run through August 6. The suspected criminal can schedule an in-person interview with the researcher or opt for a Zoom meeting or a talk through the phone.
HCJAD also ensured that the information shared during the interview is private and not be made public. The data will be used to improve the court system of Harris County.
HCJAD worked with Ideas42 to administer the interviews. Shannon McAuliffe, Vice President of Ideas42, said, “We are not paying people to go to court. This is a study, and so we are surveying people who have been charged with a misdemeanor in Harris County and we want to speak to them to better understand their struggles, if any, in getting to court.”
The latest move by HCJAD was not met with absolute positivity from the community. The Director of Victim Services for Crime Stoppers of Houston, Andy Kahan, said that the idea isn’t appealing because these suspected criminals get paid tax dollars. “I’ve been around a long time, and I have never seen anything where you’re paying defendants to share whatever perceived difficulties they might have getting to court,” he added.
HCJAD did not release further statements regarding this survey.