PPRI is a member of the court appointed monitor team overseeing a federal consent decree in Harris County, Texas. In March of 2020, Harris County settled a federal class-action lawsuit (ODonnell et al v. Harris County, No. 16-cv-01414, S.D. Tex. Nov. 21, 2019) filed in the Southern District of Texas. The suit alleged that pretrial policies and practices imposed a wealth-based detention system that kept misdemeanor defendants in jail only because they could not afford to pay bail, while those who could pay were quickly released. Professor Brandon L. Garrett of Duke University and Sandra Guerra Thompson of the University of Houston Law Center were appointed by the court to monitor agreed reforms. PPRI joined the team to conduct specialized analyses relating to the costs of transitioning to a constitutionally compliant pretrial bond system.
A major provision of reform requires replacing a misdemeanor pretrial system based on cash or surety bond with one in which most people are released on non-financial conditions without a bond hearing. Other new procedures help people make court appearances and provide holistic defense services to improve success on bond. Stakeholders receive annual trainings and there are regular reports to the public.