Judge gives preliminary approval to Houston-area bail deal

HOUSTON (AP) — A federal judge has given preliminary approval to a settlement in a lawsuit over the bail system in Texas’ most populous county which ensures that most people accused of misdemeanor offenses don’t languish in jail.

The bail system in Harris County, where Houston is located, had been deemed unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal following a 2016 lawsuit alleging poor misdemeanor defendants stayed behind bars because they couldn’t afford to pay for bail.

In an opinion issued Thursday, Rosenthal wrote the proposed settlement — announced in July — will help transform a bail system that caused “tens of thousands of constitutional violations.”

Harris County officials had previously given their approval to the settlement.

Final approval is expected to be discussed at a court hearing on Oct. 28.

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