The chief of police in Dallas, Eddie Garcia, has voiced his displeasure with the practise of releasing dangerous offenders on bond, and now the agency has data to back up his assertions.
Garcia commissioned Dr. Michael Smith, a criminologist from the University of Texas at San Antonio, to dig further into the data and determine what was going on.
Smith followed 464 individuals in cases of violent crime who were arrested in 2021 until this past May 15th.
260 Freed on Bond
The bulk of the suspects, 260, were freed on bond or on their own recognisance, while 187 were still in police custody or had been transferred to other agencies.
Nearly a fifth of the offenders who were freed were re-arrested before May 15. During a public safety meeting on Tuesday, Garcia remarked, “As long as we see these sorts of figures, we have no business claiming we take gun crime seriously.
No community that I’m aware of has ever requested fewer officers. And I haven’t come across a Dallas neighbourhood where residents have advocated for leniency toward violent offenders.”
Dr. Smith’s research shows that more than one-third of the 109 murder suspects who were caught in Dallas last year were given bond.
Suspect in Dallas Surrenders
“I believe it is eye-opening for folks who don’t deal with this type of data routinely to see the proportion of people that get out on bond,” said Dr. Smith.
“Far more would go out on bond in the Dallas sample than would ever happen in the federal system,” says one study.
In Chief Garcia’s opinion, this is unjust to the victims’ loved ones. “To tell the truth, I am a little taken aback by this.
It amazes me that 34 percent of homicide offenders our department fought so hard to remove from the community are back on the streets in less than two weeks, despite the fact that their loved ones and neighbours trusted the police to safely confine them.
The focus Shifted to Judges to Make Bail and Release Decisions
Cara Mendelsohn, a city councilwoman in Dallas, wanted to know whether there was a method for the public to find out how a particular judge rules on cases.
“It could definitely be done, but it would be a lot of work to keep tabs on each judge’s rulings.” Attempting to do so would be difficult, and I have no idea how to even begin, as Dr. Smith put it.
This, according to Chief Garcia, is unacceptable. Garcia argued that the requirement for openness in the criminal justice system should be applied to all sections of the system, not just law enforcement.
Dr. Smith said that everything that is required is available to the public but difficult to find.
“You would see different outcomes in the data I just gave you if we could establish a system that would allow for the visibility and openness that Chief Garcia is seeking,” he continued.
Some members of the city council hoped to use the information to approach state legislators about making it simpler to review judicial rulings.
Soon, Dr. Smith will conduct a massive study of all 10,000 San Antonio inmates.