Governor Abbott today proposed sweeping reforms in the state's bail bond system, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The proposals are called the Damon Allen Act, in honor of a State Trooper who was shot to death during a routine traffic stop by a suspect who had mistakenly been released on bond because the magistrate didn't know about his violent history.
“With the Damon Allen Act, Texas will take meaningful steps to reform our bail system so that we can better protect innocent life, keep violent criminals off our streets and prevent tragedies like the death of Damon Allen,” Abbott said during an event in Waco.
“It’s time for action, and I urge the legislature to take up the Damon Allen Act in the upcoming session. I thank Kasey Allen for her tireless work on this effort and the entire Allen family for their inspiring strength in the aftermath of this tragedy.”
Trooper Allen was on duty Thanksgiving Day of 2017 when he was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop. The suspect had a history that included assaulting a sheriff's deputy in Freestone County, but the Justice of the Peace who allowed him to be released wasn't aware of that history.
The governor's proposal will expand the discretion available to judges in setting bond, to allow them to consider the defendant's criminal history, and exercise other judgement in each particular case to emphasize the safety of the community as the top priority.
The proposal, which will be presented to the Texas Legislature in January as part of the governor's priority list, will also require that District Court Judges set bond for felonies, as well as for sexual offenses and misdemeanor assault.
The measure will also require that all judges and magistrates have access to a suspect's entire history, even when that information is sealed to the public.
It will also require that when suspects who are under the control of officials in another county, those officials are notified before bond is set. That is especially a concern in smaller counties.
PHOTO: OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR