Texan Senate Approves A No Bail Constitutional Amendment

The Texas State Senate has approved an amendment to the Texas Constitution that would give judges the ability to hold some criminal defendants without bail. Currently, the state constitution requires judges to offer bail to defendants in most cases.

The measure would apply to people accused of some violent crimes, sexual offenses or human trafficking. The sponsor of the Senate Joint Resolution 44, State Senator Joan Huffman, said she had been asked to push the proposal by crime victims.

“It’s the victims of the crimes who live in fear when certain defendants are out on the street and they see them out there, and they’re actually terrorized and terrified,” Sen. Huffman said.

Republicans have argued for changing the state’s rules on bail for defendants, citing cases where defendants released on bond have been accused of new crimes. In Houston, two suspects arrested in connection with the murder of Harris County Constable Precinct 3 Deputy Omar Ursin in 2022 were both out on bond at the time.

Some Democrats have questioned the impact of the proposed “no bail” policy.

“I believe that this is going to fall heavily in black and brown communities, and I’m concerned,” said State Senator Borris Miles. “Historically, we’ve seen it. We’ve lived through it.”

But Democratic State Senator John Whitmire supported the proposed constitutional amendment.

It will protect crime victims, prospective crime victims. It will protect the accused…and quite frankly, it will help judges do their job,” he said.

The measure now goes to the Texas House for consideration. If it’s approved by the House, it would go on the state-wide ballot for consideration by voters in November.