1 in 3 murder suspects arrested in Dallas were released on bail, police statistics show

Dallas police chief Eddie Garcia has expressed his frustration with violent criminals being released on bail, now the department has statistics to back up the claims.

Garcia hired UT-San Antonio criminologist Dr. Michael Smith to take a closer look into the numbers and analyze what is happening.

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Smith took a sample of 464 violent crime suspects arrested in 2021 and tracked them until May 15 of this year.

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He found 187 were in custody or transferred to other agencies, but 260 suspects, the majority, were released on bail or their own recognizance.

62 of those individuals, nearly a quarter of the released suspects, were arrested again before May 15.

"As long as we see these type of numbers, we don't have any business saying we take gun crime seriously," said Garcia during a Public Safety Meeting on Tuesday. "I've never met a neighborhood ask for less police. I've also never met a neighborhood in Dallas impacted by violent crime that's asked for less accountability of violent criminals."

Dr. Smith's analysis also found that out of 109 murder suspects arrested in Dallas last year about 1 in 3 were released on bail.

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"I think it is eye-opening for people that don't work with this kind of data regularly to see the percentage of people who get out on bail," said Dr. Smith. "Far more get out in the Dallas sample would get out on bail than would ever happen in the federal system."

Chief Garcia said it is unfair to the family of the murder victims.

"I am somewhat astonished, to be frank. To see 34% of the individuals this department worked so hard to take off the streets that have committed murder, to have family, to have community in those neighborhoods trust the police to take those individuals that have done that type of crime to only be back out in a little over 2 weeks, is astonishing to me," he said.

The questions then turned to the judges who decide bond and conditions of release.

"Is there any way an individual could learn the case dispositions of a specific judge?" asked Dallas City Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn.

"To track individual judge's decisions, it is probably doable, but would be a heavy lift. I'm not even sure how to do it, but it would not be easy to do," said Dr. Smith.

Chief Garcia said that should not be the case.

"There is different parts of criminal justice system, and law enforcement cannot be the only part of our system where we demand transparency," said Garcia.

Dr. Smith pointed out all the information needed is public, but not easily accessible.

"If we could create a system that would allow for that visibility, the transparency Chief Garcia is calling for, it is at least plausible that you would see different results in the data I just showed you," he said.

Some city council members wanted to use the data to start a conversation with state lawmakers about changes that could make it easier to see what decisions judges are making.

Dr. Smith is about to do a much broader study of 10,000 people arrested in San Antonio.