The Beto Effect: Transforming Houston's Criminal Justice System

Beto O’Rourke’s failed Senate campaign in 2018 nonetheless has made lasting change in Texas’ largest city, where Democrats drawn to the polls by O'Rourke's candidacy swept out Republican judges who had blocked various criminal justice reforms. Since then, Houston's newly Democrat-controlled judiciary has transformed a famously punitive legal culture. It largely abolished cash bail in low-level cases, keeping more defendants out of jail pending trial. The city sends far fewer juveniles to youth prisons, and now prosecutors at all levels face stiffer resistance when they appear in court.

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