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Bail reform group bonds out repeat offenders with felony and domestic violence records

WOAI San Antonio logo WOAI San Antonio 5/25/2022 Jaie Avila
© Provided by WOAI San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO - An effort that's supposed to bail out low risk offenders has released dozens of repeat offenders with histories of domestic violence, assault and even sex crimes.

An analysis of more than 400 bond outs by the bail reform group Texas Organizing Project shows very few are first time offenders who simply can't afford bail. A large percentage have been arrested for serious crimes in the past, and don't show up for court later.

Texas Organizing Project, or TOP, wants to abolish cash bail which it says is discriminatory against the poor. Back in January, they showed us how they regularly use donations to bail out inmates from the Bexar County Jail, using a weekly list supplied to them by county jail administration officials.

The county and TOP say the group is bailing out only low-level offenders who don't pose a risk to public safety.

“Most definitely we do screen individuals to make sure that we're not jeopardizing the community in any way," said TOP’s Laquita Garcia.

However, a close look at 447 of TOP’s bail outs since 2020 reveals some alarming statistics. 278 defendants, or 62 percent, were arrested for felony or domestic violence offenses. 341 of them, or 76 percent, had been arrested at least twice before.

TOP bonded out Jacob Gomez who has 23 cases on his record and has been to prison three times. Bexar County District Court records show his offenses include indecency with a child by contact.

Kindred Ferguson is a registered sex offender who was sentenced to TDC for aggravated sexual assault, aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury and indecent exposure.

Then there’s Joe Cantu, who records show has 52 cases and eleven prison sentences including assaulting a public servant causing bodily injury, indecent exposure and theft.

Texas Organizing Project performed campaign work for Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales, and other bail reform groups contributed $1.4 million to his campaign. Earlier this year we asked Gonzales why the county helps TOP with bailouts.

“If you know of any cases where they are bonding out serious criminals that is endangering the community, I’d be more than happy to look at that," Gonzales told News 4.

When we requested an interview with Gonzales this month about the cases we found he sent us a statement:

“My office does not set bonds and we have no control over who TOP, or a commercial bond company, chooses to bond out. Where appropriate, my office recommends conditions of bond for the protection of victims and the community (such as GPS monitoring, no contact orders with victims and house arrest)."

We wanted to ask Texas Organizing Project about two other findings: 31 percent of those bonded out did not show up to court later and 65 percent reoffended. However, TOP has not responded to our request.


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