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East Texas inmate advocate speaks against bill that would make it harder for some to bond out of jail

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Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 9:56 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2021 at 10:52 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Texas lawmakers are working to pass a bill that would make it harder for some people who have been arrested but not convicted to bond out of jail without paying in cash.

An East Texan who advocates for inmates and said this bill would impact some of their work.

Dalila Reynoso is Community Advocate with Texas Jail Project in Smith County and does lots of work helping inmates and speaking at commissioners court. She said their organization is one of 19 in the state that uses the charitable bail fund.

“I just want to be very clear, we don’t bail out everyone, we have a screening process and we also have very limited resources,” Reynoso said. “We don’t function like a bail company, it is a revolving fund that we have to help individuals that are simply too poor or don’t have the means and resources to afford their bail.”

The bail legislation would ban the release of those accused of violent crimes unless they had enough cash to get out of jail. It would also restrict the work of the charitable bail funds, Reynoso said.

“It would essentially remove us from the equation of wanting to bond individuals out. We try to create those resources that individuals need in order for them to show up to all their court dates, and so forth,” she said. “And if they need care and treatment to also try to find those resources, whether it’s in our community or somewhere else so they can be successful and so that cases can be disposed of.”

Reynoso said she went to Austin in March to testify against this bill, “Because once again, these reform bills will have an impact on people that simply don’t have the means and resources to afford their bond.”

Reynoso said this legislation will first impact those who are of lower income status.

“People with limited resources because if I ask myself how many people are actually sitting in our county jail with the means and resources, with money, I would say it’s a very small percentage,” she said.

But it could also impact tax payers.

“Whether we’re impacted by this directly or indirectly, as taxpayers we are impacted by this because everyday that someone sits in the county jail, taxpayers are paying for it.”

Reynoso said they have been able to bail more than 20 eligible people out of jail this year with the help of the fund.

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