State Committee Recommends Changes to Ohio's Bail System
The purpose of the bail system is to protect the public from potentially dangerous individuals and to ensure people show up to court. The traditional method for setting bail is attaching a cash amount to the type of offense a person is charged with committing, but a new report from the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commisson’s ad-hoc committee on Bail and Pretrial Services says this system needs updating.
"The commission felt strongly that we needed to evaluate whether or not in Ohio we were holding people in jail or incarcerated for the right reason prior to trial," said commission director Sara Andrews, during 90.3's Sound of Ideas program on March 14th.
Andrews said that bail decisions should be made based on whether a defendant poses a flight risk or a danger to the public, not on whether they have the money to pay their way out of jail before trial.
"Even short stays of incarceration or time in jail can negatively impact someone’s ability to maintain their job, maintain a stable residence, their employment, and their family relationships, so even a brief stay has a significant consequence on the person long term," said Andrews.
The committee’s report recommends, among other actions, that courts in Ohio adopt the use of risk assessment tools to help them make bail decisions.
The public can comment on these bail reform recommendations through May 15th.
ideastream, in partnership with Cleveland.com, will be hosting a community conversation on Monday April 3rd about bail reform and the impact of sentencing fines and courts fees. Learn more and register for the event at ideastream.org/clevelandconnects.