Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaign released an ad targeting gubernatorial candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, highlighting the dangers of what the campaign calls O’Rourke’s “I love New York” bail policies that would ban cash bail.

Despite data showing that New York’s “improved” justice system is failing and causing an increase in crime, the Abbott campaign says O’Rourke still supports transitioning Texas to a similar justice system.

O’Rourke took a left-of-center stance on the criminal justice system during his 2020 presidential campaign and has stuck by it through his gubernatorial campaign. In 2019, he released his plan for reformation, which prioritized ending mass incarceration by spending $500 million in taxpayer dollars into alternatives to incarceration, ending the cash bail system to allow pre-convicted criminals to roam free and stop charging minors as adults regardless of the crime.

“O’Rourke said he would ban private, for-profit prison systems and end the cash bail system,” The Hill reported in 2019.

If elected as governor, the ad argues that O’Rourke would implement the same plan in Texas.

Abbott’s ad explains that a similar policy has been implemented to some extent in certain areas of Texas already. For example, Harris County has seen a rise in violent crime in the last year. The current county judge, Lina Hidalgo, has taken a similar stance to O’Rourke on crime and has consistently posted lower bail rates or even no bail at all for alleged criminals, including cop murderers.

Earlier this year, Gerald Wayne Williams allegedly shot and killed a 17-year-old boy named David Castro “in a fit of road rage.” The district judge set the bond for $350,000. Castro’s father says he has no idea how the killer came up with the money to get out of jail, but he is now wandering the streets as a free man. Williams is a convicted felon, having just completed a 13-year sentence for armed robbery.

“His bondsman [Sheba Muharib] is known for accepting amounts as low as 2 percent,” said Castro’s father. “My son’s life was traded for $7,000.”

“If Beto O’Rourke is elected governor, there will be more violence and more victims,” says citizen Stacy Langhum in the ad as she argues avidly against O’Rourke’s cashless bail policy. Langhum’s son was murdered last year, but his alleged killer was released on bond shortly after his arrest. Later, the alleged killer was accused of violating the conditions of his release by shooting yet another person.

O’Rourke’s campaign communications director Chris Evans says his candidate does not support allowing violent offenders out on bail, but that he only believes in cashless bail for low-level, non-violent crimes.

O’Rourke, however, has said he would like to implement the same “reform” as New York.

“Since New York instituted revolving-door bail policies in 2019, there has been a significant increase in criminals recommitting crimes while out on bail. Extremist Beto O’Rourke’s New York policy playbook will take Texas in the wrong direction,” said Mark Miner, Abbott’s communications director.

Early voting for the election has begun and will run until November 4, with Election Day on November 8.

Soli Rice

A journalist for Texas Scorecard, Soli is a new Texan with a passion for politics. She's excited to hone her writing skills and help spread truth to Texans.