Proposition Four Could Save Lives - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Proposition Four Could Save Lives

Next week, voters will decide the fate of 8 Amendments to the Texas Constitution. One of those, Proposition 4, got its start with a tragic crime in East Texas. The ballot states, "The Constitutional amendment authorizing the denial of bail to a criminal defendant who violates a condition of the defendant's release pending trial." That would give judges power to detain defendants who violate conditions of their bail. That did not happen two years ago in a Jacksonville case. Yonanda Clayborne says her sister might still be alive, if it had.

Sunday, August 3, 2003 Faye Harris was shot in her mother's driveway by her estranged husband. "He took her life that day, she just pulled up from church and he took her life, he murdered her in front of my mom and her daughter and that is what is so hard for us because my mom and niece have to live with this and it hasn't been easy," Yonanda Clayborne, Faye's sister. Faye's estranged husband, Michael Harris, had gone to jail on several charges. Yononda says he was out on a felony bond, when he assaulted his wife with a two by four. A violation of that bond. Once again, He bonded out of jail. Just a month later, he murdered his wife.

A district judge does have the right to revoke bail on a felony defendant if that defendant violates a condition of the bail. However currently, if the defendant files for a writ of habeas corpus the bail must be reinstated. Cherokee County District Attorney, Elmer Beckworth wants the amendment changed to give judges the authority on whether to reinstate bail. Beckworth says, "Not only can it save lives such as the scenario with Faye Harris but it will also make victims feel more secure to corporation with law enforcement." Yonanda say, "If we can get this bill passed her legacy, she will still live on, helping to reach out and help someone."

Michael Harris pled guilty to murder and he is serving a life sentence. Yonanda is urging East Texans to go out and vote. Election day is Tuesday, November 8th.

Karolyn Davis, reporting.


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