New Task Force Will Study Ohio's Bail System

Jan 24, 2019

Ohio's chief justice has convened a task force to study the state's bail system for possible changes. They met for the first time Wednesday.

The committee, created by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor of the Ohio Supreme Court, will compare Ohio's bail and pretrial systems with those in other states. It will also study state and federal lawsuits challenging the use of cash bail.

Meetings are expected in February and March, and a report from the 24-member task force is due in April.

One possibility, according to the guidelines set out for the group: requiring courts to use a “risk assessment” to gauge whether defendants will come back for court dates. A 2018 Ohio legislative proposal would have required judges to assess defendants' likelihood of skipping out on court appearances based on a variety of factors instead of a strict system of cash bail.

The task force has also been asked to reexamine the use of bond schedules, which set dollar amounts for bail based on the type of charge a person faces.

Last year, O'Connor sent a letter to more than 650 judges urging them to avoid imposing excessive fines, fees or bail simply to raise money.