Judge says Houston-area bail system unfair to poor offenders

10. Attorney

HOUSTON (AP) - A judge has rebuked Houston-area authorities for imposing a bail system that's unfair to people arrested for lesser offenses who are detained for long periods because they're unable to pay for their release.

The ruling Friday by Chief U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal was part of a lawsuit from a single mother who was held for two days on a charge of driving without a license because she couldn't afford the $2,500 bail.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement that the decision is a "watershed moment in Harris County criminal-justice history."

Rosenthal ordered the county to soon begin releasing indigent inmates without posting cash bail while they await trial on misdemeanor offenses.

A broader push is underway for bail-reform measures for the whole state of Texas.

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