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ACLU: Making Bail Fair Requires More Than Just Risk Assessment

photo of gavel, money and handcuffs

A bill in the Ohio House would try to reform the jail system by basing bail on a person’s risk to society rather than how much money they have.

Liberal and conservative groups both want changes in the criminal justice system. But when it comes to a new attempt to change the way bail is determined, the ACLU isn’t quite on board.

The bill would attach bail to risk, the lower a person’s risk, the lower the bail.

“But it could just bless the disparities that are already going on,” said Mike Brickner, senior policy director for ACLU.

Brickner says, for example, people who fail to appear in court for past offenses earn a higher risk assessment.

“When you look at the number of fail-to-appears, you’ll see more people of color, more low-income people skewing that number,” he said.

Brickner suggests having a list of lower level crimes that are pre-determined to not require bail, unless a prosecutor argues otherwise.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.