Eager to resolve a federal civil rights lawsuit, Texas' most populous county over the past two years has stopped requiring most people accused of low-level crimes from putting up cash to get out of jail on bond.
Tens of thousands of people accused of misdemeanors not involving some specific circumstances, like domestic abuse or previous bond violations, have been freed without cost while awaiting trial.
Letting them out does not appear to increase the chances they will be arrested for new crimes, according to researchers who have been tracking changes made to the Harris County misdemeanor bail system. In fact, the percentage of defendants arrested for new crimes within a year of their original arrest went down after the county changed its bail practices.
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