Hundreds of thousands of people cycle through Texas’ local jails every year, with about 65,000 people housed in county jails on a daily basis. On average, more than half of these people have not been convicted of the crime for which they are accused. They are awaiting trial, sometimes for weeks or months; many simply cannot afford to pay the bond amounts that would allow for their release. Especially for the men and women who do not pose a risk to public safety, this creates unnecessary and costly jail crowding, and it squanders public resources that could be better used to address substance abuse, mental health, or other issues within the community.
Also alarming, many counties – especially rural counties – continue to have low appointment rates for those who request counsel, in large part due to inadequately resourced defense systems.