Judge Releases Defendants After Losing Re-Election, Asking If They'd Kill Anyone

Houston-area juvenile judge loses election, then ‘wholesale releases’ defendants the next day

A Texas judge released the majority of youthful defendants by only asking them if they planned to not kill anyone before letting them go, reportedThe Houston Chronicle. Halpert said he heard the judge say the easier-than-normal releases today were "what the voters wanted".

It is not known how many juveniles were released, but the number, according to the outlet, is at least seven - four of whom faced aggravated robbery charges.

On Judge Devlin's website, he discussed his creation of a Juvenile Gang Court. "We oppose the wholesale release of violent offenders at any age; this could endanger the public", Ogg said.

Devlin has a reputation for sending children to detention, and together with another justice, is responsible for a full fifth of youngsters sitting behind bars awaiting trial.

"He was releasing everybody", said public defender Steven Halpert, who watched the string of surprising releases.

Harris County prosecutors expressed concerns after Judge Glenn Devlin made the decision Wednesday in Houston.

Harris County almost doubled the number of youths sent to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department during Devlin's tenure, but Halpert told the Chronicle he'd seen only one defendant kept in custody Wednesday.

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The alleged action by the judge follows Tuesday night's election returns that swept all 59 Republican judges from their benches. Halpert told the Chronicle it's not abnormal for Devlin to release juveniles facing serious charges if they are behaving in detention and have adequate supervision at home. "But nobody has seen this before", Halpert said.

"I'm not sure that I can wrap my arms around what he's actually doing", he told the Chronicle.

"It's a huge change and the only thing that has happened is that he was not elected so I don't know what to attribute it to other than that", he said.

Last month, the newspaper reported that he and another Republican judge on the circuit accounted for more than 20% of all the children sent to Texan juvenile prisons in 2017 - even though the overall numbers were down.

The American Civil Liberties Union is requesting an investigation into Devlin's conduct. "Reducing mass incarceration and addressing racial disparities require judges to look at people as individuals", Jones said in a statement released Wednesday.

The released defendants will have their cases heard on January 4, when Democratic Judge Natalia Oakes takes over.

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