An inmate named Keith Smith spent YEARS waiting in Harris County Jail because he couldn’t afford bail - then disaster struck: Hurricane Harvey destroyed the courthouse.
Lots of people remain in jail because of high bail, but the courthouse’s destruction made matters worse.
Since the courthouse was destroyed, imagine Keith’s situation. He waited years to go to trial and plead not guilty. But because of the natural disaster, his wait lengthened as trials were delayed, the District Attorney's Office missed deadlines, and officials had to share courtrooms!
Initially, officials were working in a basement cutting what was called “Harvey Deals.” These were pleas and dismissals pushed through on hundreds of cases because of the inconvenient circumstances.
This all came after the horror many inmates experienced during the hurricane.
While Hurricane Harvey roared, some prisoners were trapped inside prisons and jails, where their human rights were continuously denied.
What this entire predicament exposes is the depth of power the criminal justice system has over people’s lives.
Ultimately, this adds to the long list of reasons we need to get rid of bail. You never know WHAT may happen. People may suffer in a cell for years just because they can’t afford to pay. And there’s no justice in that at all.