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After defeating Republican incumbent Devon Anderson at the polls, Democrat Kim Ogg is taking over the Harris County District Attorney's Office in a contentious time for criminal justice in Houston, in Texas, and frankly, in the United States. She will become the gatekeeper with the power to decide who belongs in the overcrowded Harris County Jail, the third-largest in the country, and will wield the power to rewrite policies that either strengthen or weaken punishment for those charged with low-level, nonviolent crimes.
And Ogg will take over just as a perfect storm brews for criminal justice reform here in Harris County, at every corner of the system. She takes over as the county, its misdemeanor judges and bail hearing officers face a lawsuit for allegedly failing to consider poor people's ability to pay bail, as the Constitution requires. She takes over as the county makes use of a prestigious $2 million grant to enact reforms intended to equalize the system for racial minorities, for the mentally ill and for the poor. And she takes over as the nationwide war on drugs continues to recede from prominence.
Ogg has repeatedly promised her supporters, throughout the campaign and during her victory speech, that "it’s a new day of justice in Harris County." It's a romantic notion, sure — but what does that actually look like in practice?