HOUSTON (AP) — A settlement that ensures most people accused of misdemeanor offenses are quickly released and don’t languish in jail has been reached in a federal lawsuit over the bail system in Texas’ most populous county.
The bail system in Harris County, where Houston is located, had been deemed unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal, who said it violated equal protection rights against wealth-based discrimination for misdemeanor defendants.
Harris County officials on Friday announced the preliminary settlement.
The lawsuit, filed in 2016, alleged misdemeanor defendants who were too poor to post bail and be released remained jailed because of their poverty.
Under the proposed settlement, most misdemeanor defendants would be released within hours of arrest and would get help to ensure they attend future court appearances.
The agreement needs final approval.