April 3, 2012 - The Criminal Justice Institute of the University of Houston Law Center, together with the Criminal Justice Section of the ABA, held a one-day conference on pretrial detention in Texas at the State Capitol in Austin on March 30, 2012. The program was organized by Professor Sandra Guerra Thompson of the University of Houston Law Center and Dr. Ana Yáñez-Correa, Executive Director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.
The event brought together stakeholders from around the state with an interest in pretrial services and detention practices. Speakers addressed the use of evidence-based practices in pretrial services, the failure of financial bond practices to accomplish the goals of bail, and the critical importance of legal representation at the first appearance when bail is set.
Keynote speakers included Tim Murray, Executive Director of the Pretrial Justice Institute, and Professor Doug Colbert of the University of Maryland School of Law. The day’s program aimed to address policy changes that could be implemented at the state and county levels that would reduce costs while maintaining public safety.
Five of Professor Thompson’s seminar students produced papers focusing on issues relating to detention practices in Texas, and the papers were included in the program materials. Subsequent meetings with legislators are planned for the fall of this year and spring of 2013.