“Texas Organizing Project (TOP) is profoundly saddened and deeply troubled by the recent tragic events involving Shane James. We condemn his most recent egregious acts, full stop. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the victims and their families during this incredibly difficult time.
Through our justice program, we bailed out James in coordination with the Bexar County’s public defender’s office, nearly two years ago in February 2022 on misdemeanor charges where his bond fees totaled $300. The events that have unfolded are devastating, and we recognize the pain and suffering this incident has caused. We take our responsibilities seriously and acknowledge that we must address both the immediate impact of this tragedy and the broader implications for our bail program.
TOP was founded with a commitment to transforming Texas into a state that works for everyone. A piece of our work is reforming the criminal justice system, advocating for fairness, and providing support to those who have often been marginalized and underserved. We firmly believe in the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and our mission is to ensure that individuals have the opportunity to address their legal challenges while awaiting trial in a just and equitable manner.
We want to make clear that TOP has a thorough and rigorous screening process in place to assess individuals who are eligible for our bail program, with a focus on assisting with misdemeanor offenses. James was deemed eligible based on our criteria at the time. However, TOP has had no interaction with James since March 2022. We acknowledge that our assessments cannot anticipate the future actions of individuals. We are committed to conducting a comprehensive internal review of our program and processes.
We understand that some may try to use this tragedy to criticize bail programs, even for misdemeanors. We remain steadfast in our commitment to our mission, advocating for the rights and representation of all Texans.
Additionally, we are acutely aware of the urgent need to address gun violence as an endemic issue in Texas and across the United States. We can’t ignore the larger context in which incidents like these occur. Our commitment to transforming our state and nation’s criminal justice system includes advocating for sensible gun control measures and community safety initiatives that can help prevent tragedies.”
About Texas Organizing Project:
TOP organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris, Bexar, and Fort Bend counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.