Less than a year ago, life was good. I was the proud mother of two beautiful daughters and grandma to the sweetest eight-month old girl you'd ever seen. We were planning a gender-reveal for the arrival of Caitlynne's second baby when everything went wrong.
My daughter's husband, Alex Guajardo, had been on a downward spiral. In May 2019, he was arrested for a second DWI and a hit-and-run. He received what is called a personal recognizance or free PR bond and was released from jail. In July, he was arrested again on a charge of assault-family violence for assaulting Caitlynne, who was then 17-weeks pregnant. My daughter made a brave move and filed criminal charges against Alex for beating her up.
Immediately following Alex's arrest, I begged Caitlynne to stay with me so I could protect her and the babies. She refused. Caitlynne had convinced herself that the system would protect her. She reasoned that because her husband was going before a judge to face a felony and three misdemeanors, he wasn't getting out of jail. Nobody was going to bail him out and there was no way the court was going to release him for free again. She believed she was safe.
My daughter couldn't have been more wrong. Although Alex's actions showed a clear pattern of escalating anger and criminal activity, he was released on yet another free PR bond at no cost. He hadn't even gone to court on his prior cases, but was issued yet another PR bond.
Within hours of his release, Alex brutally stabbed Caitlynne to death, along with her unborn child.
My heart is beyond broken. I not only lost Caitlynne and my grandbaby, I lost my best friend. She was my everything, my first love, as I always told her. I could fill an ocean with the tears I have cried. The pain never ends.
But my time to drown in grief has passed. What happened was wrong and I'm committed to preventing this from happening to anyone else. To that end, I have learned that the people responsible for the new policies that set Alex free are advocating similar reforms in Austin and across the country. They argue that current bail system works against poor people and needs reforming.
My issue is not with the poor. Rather, it has everything to do with protecting the public from violent criminals. I wish my family's experience was the exception, but somewhere in Texas seemingly every day there are new examples of horrors that have occurred because of bail reform.
Our system is upside down. Hundreds of people need to get processed through our state's jails on a daily basis. But how do you do this cost-effectively and efficiently, while simultaneously protecting the public and rights of people fighting poverty?
Our elected officials have focused on the destitute and have ignored the bigger picture. In trying so hard to be fair, they have created a terrible system that is simply releasing countless defendants who never even see a judge. Accountability has been removed from the process.
Both Pasadena Police Chief Paul Bruegger and Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers Union have joined with me to work on a solution that returns accountability to a criminal justice system that needs it in a big way. I will also be calling on the Texas Legislature to enact "Caitlynne's Law," to improve our criminal justice system.
In a million years I never expected to be getting involved in something like this, but I can't rest knowing I didn't at least try to help. If I can save mothers from this debilitating grief, it will be worth the long fight ahead. I urge everyone to join me. Other daughters, mothers and grandmothers should never have to experience what my family has been forced to endure -- a nightmare from which we can never awaken ever since the system failed Caitlynne and her unborn baby.
The Cost of Bail Reform Was My Daughter's Life