City Attorney Zach Klein announced a new policy to decrease arrests for warrants stemming from non-violent offenses on Thursday.
Defendants with non-violent misdemeanors will no longer be arrested on their outstanding warrants. Instead they’ll receive a second summons to appear in front of a judge.
“We have been called to fundamentally rethink our criminal justice system – through big, systemic reforms and in day-to-day changes,” Klein wrote in an emailed statement. “This policy will make a real impact on our system and reduce the number of non-violent people we’re unnecessarily arresting."
The initiative was prompted by concerns about jail capacity during the coronavirus pandemic, and the city attorney’s office says it is now a permanent policy.
Klein says it will free up Columbus Police to focus on violent crime in the community, which has spiked recently. Since April 14, the Columbus Police have issued 234 summonses which otherwise would have been arrests.
Under the new policy Columbus Police officers will still be able to decide whether to provide a second summons based on the details of the case. If a defendant repeatedly fails to make their court date, a judge can recommend they not be eligible for a new summons.
Klein hopes the policy will prioritize jail space for violent offenders and save taxpayer money.