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Bail Reform In Cuyahoga County Will Be Taken Up By A New Justice Council

Members of Cuyahoga County's new Justice Council during June, 20, 2018 announcement. [Matt Richmond / ideastream]

About three months ago, an independent report  [PDF] recommended sweeping changes to the way bail is set for everyone arrested in Cuyahoga County. It also addressed the issue of who should be released while awaiting trial.

Among its recommendations were a centralized system for setting bail, instead of having each of the county's 13 municipal courts do it on their own. It also called for the release of more defendants before trial and basing the bail decision on the defendant's flight risk instead of a schedule based on the crime.

The county’s presiding judge, John Russo, said during a Thursday press conference that the new council will work on making those changes.

“One of our first pieces of business is going to be the report that was created for the bail bond,” said Russo. “We’re going to meet, we believe we have a date in October which will start the initial meetings. We do want to move forward. It’s one of the reports that I don’t think any of us want to put on the shelf and let it gather dust.” 

The report called for the release of defendants, or a bail decision, within 48 hours of arrest.

Russo said the council will also work on addressing the opioid epidemic and improving responses to mental health-related cases.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer at Ideastream Public Media who focuses on criminal justice.