Jail Inmate's Death Prompts New Discussion of Alternatives to Cash Bail

The death of a 63 year old man who was in the Bexar County Jail because he couldn't afford to make $500 bail on a non violent misdemeanor trespassing charge has given new life to efforts to amend laws setting cash bail for release, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

"It costs Bexar County taxpayers conservatively, about $900 to house him,"Salazar said of the inmate. "It would almost have been cheaper for taxpayers to post his bond for him."

Jack Ule, 63, was found non responsive in his cell early Thursday, and was pronounced dead at a downtown hospital.

Officials say the death was due to 'ongoing health issues,' including mental health issues.

Ule had been arrested on April 4 on a trespassing charge, and would have only had to pay $50 to bond out of jail, as cash bond is generally one tenth of the bail bond amount.

"There has got to be something else we can be doing with these folks other than allowing them to languish in jail until they have health issues that allow them to die," Salazar said.

A woman who had been in jail for more than a year on a similar charge died last fall in the Bexar County jail.

Several groups are urging Bexar County and the Legislature to allow alternatives to cash bail for inmates who are held pending trial on minor charges. It is estimated that two thirds of the inmates of urban county jails in Texas have never been convicted of any crime. They are simply there because they can't afford to post cash bail.


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