County approves settling suit over Houston area bail system

HOUSTON (AP) — Officials have approved a settlement in a federal lawsuit over the bail system in Texas’ most populous county which ensures that most people accused of misdemeanor offenses don’t languish in jail.

The bail system in Harris County, where Houston is located, had been deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge following a 2016 lawsuit alleging poor misdemeanor defendants remained jailed because of their poverty.

Harris County commissioners Tuesday approved the settlement by a 3-2 vote, with the two Republicans on the court voting against it.

The settlement ensures most people charged with misdemeanor offenses would be released within hours of arrest and would get help to ensure they attend future court appearances.

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The judge handling the lawsuit could give final approval at an Aug. 21 court hearing.

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