Texas Judge Loses Election, Sets Inmates Free on his Way Out
Just hours after his re-election efforts ended with a loss to his opponent, a Texas judge set free almost all of the juvenile defendants who appeared before him.
"He was releasing everybody, Steven Halpert," a public defender, said.
"Apparently, he was saying that's what the voters wanted."
"If I release you, are you going to go out and kill anybody?" Halpert recalled Devlin saying to the inmates before their release.
"We oppose the wholesale release of violent offenders at any age. This could endanger the public," Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said after Harris County Juvenile Court Judge Glenn Devlin set the inmates free, moments after learning of his defeat.
Judge Devlin, however, says it wasn't an act of spite, but has faced criticism for explaining the move by saying, "that's what voters wanted."
"The voters of Harris County clearly wanted a change in the juvenile courts, and Judge Devlin today is showing us why the voters may have wanted change," policy attorney with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition Jay Jenkins said, criticizing Devlin.
Devlin, along with another judge, were responsible for more than one fifth of children sent to Texas juvenile prisons in 2017, according to Fox News.
It's not clear exactly how many how many inmates have been released, but Harris County prosecutors and public defenders alike expressed concern the move might endanger the public.
"I'm not sure that I can wrap my arms around what he's actually doing," Alex Bunin, Harris County's chief public defender told the Houston Chronicle.
Devlin and Harris County's other two Republican juvenile judges were ousted from their seats as judges in favor of their Democrat opponents in Tuesday's election.
All three incumbent judges lost by at least 10-spread points.