After election loss, Texas judge releases juveniles who promise not to kill, official says

Harris County Juvenile Court Judge Glenn Devlin released juveniles after he wasn’t re-elected, a public defender said.
Harris County Juvenile Court Judge Glenn Devlin released juveniles after he wasn’t re-elected, a public defender said. KTRK news video

A Texas judge who wasn’t re-elected released juveniles who had appeared before him, a public defender said, according to the Houston Chronicle.

(Judge Glenn Devlin) was releasing everybody,” public defender Steven Halpert said, according to the newspaper. “Apparently he was saying that’s what the voters wanted.”

The Republican judge based in Harris County lost the 313th District Court seat to Democrat Natalia Oakes, according to the county’s unofficial election results page. She had 56.8 percent of the vote.

Before he released the criminal defendants, though, he asked them each one question.

“‘If I release you, will you go out and murder anybody?’ And so, if the juvenile said ‘No,’ they were released,” Halpert said, according to KTRK. “Judge Devlin would never normally ask that question of a juvenile. This was unusual.”

At least 10 juveniles were released, the station reported.

“I just think this was a post-election weird blip,” Halpert said, accordinng to KTRK. “I think there’s an implication by electing all Democratic judges, there’s this belief that Democratic judges are going to be soft on crime.”

Now, the ACLU of Texas is calling for an investigation.

Judge Devlin’s mass release of children ... without any apparent concern for the children’s safety or for ensuring that they are released to their parents, proves his detachment from the needs of each child,” Sharon Watkins Jones with the ACLU of Texas said in the statement. “ ... It is improper for a judge to make orders motivated by partisan interests or spite as a result of his political loss.”

Law says that youth defendants are entitled to a detention hearing every 10 days, the Chronicle reported. In the hearing, a judge decides whether the juvenile should stay locked up or if they “can safely be released under supervision.”

Halpert told the newspaper that Devlin isn’t “one of those that never releases a kid charged with an aggravated robbery, but nobody has seen this before.”

In a statement to KTRK, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said they “oppose the wholesale release of violent offenders at any age; this could endanger the public.”

More than 200 people spent last Friday volunteering and beautifying the Sacramento Youth Detention Facility for Cesar Chavez National Day of Service, including muralist Anthony Padilla. The facility got a new Sacramento Proud mural and a garden, w