Governor Gregg Abbott calls for bail reform in response to bail set in Smith County

Governor Gregg Abbott calls for bail reform in response to bail set in Smith County

(KLTV) - Texas Governor Gregg Abbott is pushing for bail reform.

On August 7, Abbott proposed the "Damon Allen Act," legislation that would change the way bonds are set for violent offenders.

On Thanksgiving Day of 2017, Department of Public Safety Trooper Damon Allen was shot and killed while on a traffic stop in Freestone County.

His alleged killer, Dabrett Black, was out of jail on a $15,000 bond after a recent arrest for aggravated assault on a public servant. The bond was set by Smith County Judge Mitch Shamburger.

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you the bond was set too high or too low; the judge set the bond. The judge has to live with that," Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith.

When Kasey Allen learned of Black's violent history with law enforcement she argued that if Black had been given a higher bond, he may not have been out of jail and her husband would still be alive.

Kasey took that argument to the Governor's Office, asking for help making a change.

"It is because of Kasey that I am announcing reforms to Texas's bail system—it is called the Damon Allen act," Abbott said at today's press conference.

The proposed legislation requires bail amounts to be based on the threat offenders may pose to law enforcement, will ensure judges have access to a suspect's criminal history before setting a bond, and require District Court Judges rather than justices of the peace to set the bond amount for violent offenders.

Sheriff Smith says as the proposal stands now, "It brings up a lot of questions about how it would work."

Smith added that when it came to Dabrett Black's case, he met the two criteria for a high bond to be set.

"Was the person a flight risk, were they a danger to the community? The answer to both those questions would be absolutely," says Smith.

KLTV reached out to Judge Shamburger who set the bond, but he was unable to comment.

The Damon Allen act will be voted on in the next legislative session.

Copyright 2018 KLTV. All rights reserved.