Felony and Misdemeanor backlogs reduced by more than 40%
Harris County, TX — Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia has championed the importance of reducing the backlog of cases in the criminal justice system, long before COVID-19. Often saying “justice delayed is justice unserved,” Garcia has often taken the lead in directing Commissioners Court to invest nearly $40 million in efforts to reduce the backlog.
Since January 2022, the investments have led to both the felony and misdemeanor backlogs being reduced by more than 40%.
At Tuesday’s Commissioners Court, an additional $25 million in ARPA funds were allocated to reduce the backlog, and Commissioners Court approved the measure unanimously. The new funds are broken down into the following programs:
• $7.9 million – Case Preparation: Associate Judges and support staff
• $4.8 million – Evidence Management: Technology and support staff
• $8.3 million – Case Disposition: Emergency Response Dockets District Courts
• $2.9 million – Case Disposition: Emergency Response Dockets County Courts
• $1.2 million – Case Flow Management & Process Improvements
The funds will be distributed among the following departments: District and County Courts, the District Attorney, the District Clerk, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Community Supervision (adult probation), the Public Defender, and Pre-Trial Services.
As an example of why these investments are critical, the $4.8 million dedicated to evidence management includes $1.8 million to the Institute of Forensic Sciences (IFS). IFS has suffered significant staffing and retention challenges, with over 20% of positions needing to be filled.
“I am proud of our progress so far, but I will not be satisfied until we reduce the backlog to pre-Hurricane Harvey levels, eventually eliminating it. Historically, it takes around 200 days to bring a typical case to disposition,” said Commissioner Adrian Garcia. “We can’t keep delaying justice for victims who deserve a speedy resolution. It’s also important that the accused get their day in court in a timely manner.”