The Beto Effect: Transforming Houston's Criminal Justice System []


By Keri Blakinger, The Marshall Project, February 25, 2020

Beto O’Rourke lost Texas in 2018. But his unsuccessful Senate bid led to a big change in the state’s largest city: a major overhaul of the criminal-justice system.

The candidacy of O’Rourke, a young and charismatic congressman, energized Democratic voters in this red state and added momentum to a slowly-building blue wave in Harris County.

The victorious Houston-area Democrats—including 59 judges and the county’s top executive—have tackled the hot-button issue of bail reform and are debating how to improve the system for making sure poor people are represented by lawyers in criminal court. Some new judges have changed longstanding courtroom culture, ending the shackling of juveniles and fining prosecutors for withholding evidence.

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