“If California approves Prop. 25, it will be perhaps the single greatest victory for criminal justice reform ever put up for public vote,” wrote Garcia, who is currently a county commissioner for Harris County.
It might seem unusual for a Texas politician to get involved in a California referendum, but the effort to eliminate cash bail isn’t about any one individual state or county. It is a nationwide movement to reform a fundamentally unjust and discriminatory system that cares more about people’s wealth than their personal worth. In fact, as a county commissioner, Garcia supported Harris County’s own bail reform efforts, which eliminated cash bail for most misdemeanor charges without leading to an increase in recidivism.
Garcia’s voice adds a powerful perspective, showing that this isn’t a fight between reform advocates and law enforcement. Rather, with more than two decades experience in law enforcement, Garcia explains how he’s personally experienced how a wealth-based detention system does little to serve public safety.
“All too often, I’ve seen people stuck behind bars, unable to return to work or provide for their families — simply because they couldn’t afford to pay cash bail,” he wrote. “And I’ve seen people who posed serious threats to public safety go free before trial solely because they had enough money in their bank accounts.”
Garcia — the first Hispanic sheriff elected to Harris County — also pointed to how wealth-based detention perpetuates racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.
“This discriminatory cash-bail practice is one of the reasons that, despite representing less than a third of the overall population, Black and Latino people make up half of all pretrial detainees,” he wrote.
For more on why a former Texas sheriff thinks Californians should vote yes on Prop. 25, read Garcia’s oped on The Crime Report.