Hays County Inmates are not receiving timely trials
According to the most recent data from the Hays County Jail Dashboard, the majority of inmates are considered pretrial inmates, meaning they have yet to be convicted of a crime and are still awaiting trial. When an individual must wait for trial, they are given the option to bond out of jail or wait in jail for the entire period until a trial is held. Those of lower socioeconomic class are disproportionately affected by this, as they struggle to afford bail. On average in Hays County, pretrial inmates sit in jail for 110 days. Through my research, I have endeavored to answer the questions of why the pretrial process in Hays County is substantially lengthy, what implications high bonds have on members of the community– specifically members belonging to underrepresented groups– and which solutions are viable for lowering the duration inmates await trial. In order to draw conclusions about the state of pretrial detention in Hays County, I have taken a journalistic approach by analyzing data from the Hays County Jail dashboard and interviewing an array of criminal justice experts, criminal justice advocacy groups, and local public officials to gain insight into the data. From my data analysis and interview processes, I have concluded that the state of pretrial detention in Hays County, if not rectified, is nearing potential violations of human rights and the Sixth Amendment. In light of this, I have evaluated the potential solutions of mandating lower bonds, lowering penalties for specific non-violent crimes, and implementing pretrial diversion programs as viable options for achieving a more equitable justice system in Hays County. Furthermore, these solutions all pose broader recommendations for reforming the pretrial detention programs in other Texas counties.
pretrial, pretrial detention, Hays County, criminal justice, criminal justice reform, Hays County jail, Honors College
Gage, A. (2023). Hays County inmates are not receiving timely trials. Honors College, Texas State University.