Governor Abbott’s Executive Order Undermines Public Safety, ACLU of Texas Responds

Affiliate: ACLU of Texas
March 30, 2020 3:45 pm


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AUSTIN, Texas – Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order Sunday denying the release from jail of anyone accused of certain crimes if they could not afford to pay bail. The order comes at a time when local criminal legal stakeholders attempt to decrease the population of detained individuals to stop an outbreak of COVID-19 in crowded jails. Days prior, the ACLU of Texas and other organizations issued a letter to local criminal legal leaders urging them to take immediate action to curb the spread of the virus.

Sarah Labowitz, policy and advocacy director for the ACLU of Texas, had the following reaction:

“Texas has the highest incarceration rate of almost anywhere on the planet. For everyone’s safety, political leaders should be working to reduce the crowded population in prisons and jails that could lead to a potential coronavirus outbreak. Governor Abbott’s executive order puts people and communities in grave danger for infection. The order allows anyone who can pay bond to go free, while forcing those who can’t to remain in custody, giving preferential treatment to the wealthy. Governor Abbott needs to rescind his order and align with science-based evidence for how to fight this pandemic, which includes reducing Texas’ population of incarcerated people to avoid the possible steep loss of life.”

The letter to local criminal justice stakeholders is available here: https://www.aclutx.org/sites/default/files/covid-19_response_to_local_cj_stakeholders.pdf

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