Following a computer glitch last week during a systems update, Harris County’s Joint Processing System released close to 300 inmates according to Andy Kahan, victim services director for Crime Stoppers of Houston.
“You can try to sugarcoat things or whatever, but the bottom line is it’s a huge embarrassment, and that’s reality,” Khan said.
Apparently, the computer glitch caused a backlog for the probable cause hearings, which must occur within 48 hours following arrest.
In a Twitter exchange between Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), Gonzalez placed the blame on another county department, Universal Services, which operates the system that glitched.
According to the sheriff’s office, most defendants were Class B type misdemeanors and will be rearrested through warrants.
Class B misdemeanors include a first driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense, prostitution, minor drug possession (less than 2 ounces), indecent exposure, and theft (between $100-$750).
Theft of catalytic converters is a statewide problem, due to their valuable metals, but it is especially prevalent in Houston. Based on the cost of a catalytic converter—between $200-$300 unless the car requires a direct fit, which is pricier—theft of one would fall into the category of a Class B misdemeanor.
Houston Talk Radio Host, Michael Berry, says the thefts are “out of control.”
Catalytic converters are the new copper. In Houston, catalytic converter thefts are completely out of control.
— Michael Berry (@MichaelBerrySho) April 1, 2022
Thursday evening, an off-duty Harris County Deputy Sheriff leaving the grocery store with his wife, discovered three men stealing the catalytic converter from his truck and confronted them. One of the men responded by shooting and Deputy Darren Almendarez died from his injuries later that evening.
In a press release today, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has some strong descriptions of the Harris County government, including “broken,” “incompetence,” and “dysfunction.”
“This is just the latest example of dysfunction and incompetence from Harris County leadership,” said Patrick. “On March 1st they proved they could not properly count the election votes. Days later they mysteriously found 10,000 uncounted ballots. They never explained how they were lost in the first place, and they never said who had them or where they were for 5 days.”
“At the same time, the County Judge is under investigation for a questionable contract allegedly given to a personal friend,” said Patrick referring to Lina Hidalgo whose office was raided by the Texas Rangers earlier this month.
“And now, what is the news this week?” Patrick asks. “This week, they opened the jail and kicked loose nearly 300 criminals. No excuse, no explanation. The county would have you believe there is nothing to worry about. How many murderers, rapists, sexual predators, armed robbers, burglars, drug dealers were in the release? They have not offered up an account or demonstrated any transparency at all.”
“But responsibility for this level of dysfunction rests squarely on the shoulders of the Harris County Commissioner Court. These are the people who need to be resigning in shame, embarrassment, and dishonor,” said Patrick.