Cleveland Connects: Justice for All

Prisons, and prison reform, get a lot of attention when it comes to the subject of criminal justice. But another crucial piece of the justice reform puzzle are the monetary penalties that keep people locked up, stuck within the system, and unable to get back to normal life. Fines, fees, and bail schedules—among other forces—systematically undermine a poor person’s ability to break the cycle of incarceration. These financial mechanisms all have one thing in common: they typically don’t consider a defendant’s ability to pay. This results in many people—upwards 60% of the counties’ average daily jail population—staying in jail for days, weeks, even months at a time, all because they can’t post bail or afford a lawyer. This pretrial incarceration can have devastating ripple effects for the defendant, including loss of employment, housing, and child custody. In addition, high debt burdens incurred from the legal system can be a stumbling block for offenders reentering society.

There is considerable regional and national attention to this issue right now, as Ohio joins many other states in exploring effective strategies for bail reform. What changes have been enacted in Northeast Ohio courts and what impact are they having in our communities? What can we learn from municipalities at the forefront of change? Are statewide changes coming?

Cleveland Connects: Justice for All will be moderated by Mike McIntyre, host of the Sound of Ideas on 90.3 WCPN and columnist for The Plain Dealer.

Cleveland Connects is a content initiative by ideastream and Advance Ohio, which represents and The Plain Dealer, and is sponsored by PNC Bank.  It presents engaging dialogue, community events, and multiple media content with the goal of illuminating and advancing solutions on topics important to our region.

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  • Judge Ronald B. Adrine, Cleveland Municipal Court
  • Kari Bloom, Legislative Liaison, Office of the Ohio Public Defender
  • Judge Kenneth R. Spanagel, Parma Municipal Court

Also featuring a video segment from Shakyra Diaz, Regional Director, Alliance for Safety and Justice 

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