A state bill designed to keep those accused of violent acts behind bars while awaiting trial is back in the hands of the Texas House after failing to pass in 2019.
The Damon Allen Act is named after DPS Trooper Damon Allen, who was shot and killed in the line of duty on Thanksgiving Day in 2017. The bill is once again up for consideration in the Texas Legislature.
”The Damon Allen Act is being proposed in response to a Texas police officer that was shot and killed in the line of duty by an individual who had prior convictions for violent offenses and was out on bail at the time,” explained Tammy Bracewell, assistant professor of criminal justice at Texas A&M University - Central Texas.
Supporters say the bill would make it easier for judges to keep defendants who had been previously convicted of violent offenses behind bars while awaiting trial.
”Any kind of obviously death, robbery, aggravated robbery, sexual abuse, human trafficking, several different offenses. It would just make it easier for judges to hold bond,” said Detective Joseph Scaramucci with the McLennan County Sheriff's Office.
The bill touches on bail reform, but bail reform advocates say it doesn't go far enough.
”There are people that are against this particular bill because it is not all encompassing of all of the bail problems.” said Bracewell.
Law enforcement officers who testified before the House said the bill addresses bail, but the goal is beyond bail reform.
”It’s not like people are being held for possession of marijuana. These are violent offenses. So, if we can get them in custody, they really need to stay there,” said Detective Scaramucci.
The Damon Allen Act was initially introduced in 2019 and failed to pass. This time, Governor Greg Abbot has made it a legislative priority.
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