Pretrial Justice & Bail Reform

Bail is supposed to serve two purposes: ensuring a person will show up for court, and protecting the public from dangerous people. Texas’s money-based bail system is not designed to serve either purpose. Instead, Texas’s bail system keeps low-income, low-risk people accused - but not convicted - of a crime in jail simply because they cannot afford to pay money bond. At the same time, people at a higher risk for flight who pose a greater danger to the community are released before trial if they have money for bail.​

This violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of Equal Protection and Due Process, and our shared value that freedom should not depend on wealth.

We believe people charged with crimes and their communities are better served by evidence-based practices rooted in community than ineffective policies based on a person's wealth. We use impact litigation and policy advocacy, in addition to supporting local grassroots efforts, to create more equitable pretrial policies and practices.

By the numbers...

Percent of people held in Texas jails are being detained pretrial, despite not having been convicted of a crime


Increased likelihood that a person will plead guilty if they are held in jail pretrial for a misdemeanor


Increased likelihood a person will receive a jail sentence on a misdemeanor if they are held in jail pretrial


Annual cost to Texan taxpayers for pretrial jail beds

$900 million

Freedom should not depend on wealth.

TFDP fights to end wealth-based pretrial detention through:

Impact Litigation: TFDP is co-counsel on two class action lawsuits challenging unconstitutional wealth-based detention in Dallas County and Harris County.

Local and legislative advocacy: TFDP advocates for legislation and local policies that require courts to follow the Constitution and use the least restrictive conditions necessary to reasonably ensure appearance in court and safety of the community.


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