After losing his bench in a Democratic sweep, Harris County Juvenile Court Judge Glenn Devlin released nearly all of the youthful defendants that appeared in front him on Wednesday morning, simply asking the kids whether they planned to kill anyone before letting them go.
In court, prosecutors voiced their concerns about the seemingly indiscriminate release of those accused of everything from low-level misdemeanors to violent crimes.
“We oppose the wholesale release of violent offenders at any age,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement later. “This could endanger the public.”
In total, at least seven kids were released, prosecutors said, including four facing aggravated robbery charges.
The longtime Republican jurist — whose seat was among 59 swept by Democrats in Tuesday’s election — is one of two juvenile court judges in Harris County whose track records favoring incarceration contributed heavily to doubling the number of kids Harris County sent to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department in recent years, even as those figures fell in the rest of the state.
A Houston Chronicle investigation last month found that Devlin and Judge John Phillips accounted for more than one-fifth of all children sent to the state’s juvenile prisons last year. The two jurists not only sent more teens to juvenile prison, but they also sent them younger and for less-serious offenses than the county’s third juvenile court, where Judge Mike Schneider presides.
All of the cases were reset to Jan. 4, the first Friday after Devlin’s replacement takes the bench.