Advocates of bail reform protest Cuyahoga County Jail conditions in January 2019.
Nick Castele / Ideastream

Columbus recently moved to stop requesting cash bonds for most people charged with non-violent crimes, instead letting them out of jail as they await trial. It’s the latest in a statewide effort to reform cash bail, which tends to keep poor people behind bars.

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Ohio’s courts would take significant steps away from cash bail under a set of recommendations offered by a state Supreme Court task force.

Franklin County Courthouse
Adora Namigadde / WOSU

Columbus Attorney Zach Klein is instructing city prosecutors to stop requesting cash bonds for most people charged with non-violent misdemeanors and instead release them on their own recognizance.

The Ohio Supreme Court chief justice is gathering a team of experts to examine the state’s bail system, determining whether or not the system is unfair for people who are arrested but held on expensive bail before they can argue their case. 

New Task Force Will Study Ohio's Bail System

Jan 24, 2019
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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.

Judge Hummer presiding over arraignment hearings in Courtroom 4D.
Nick Evans / WOSU

It’s noisy and bustling in courtroom 4D. Six days a week, defendants held in the Franklin County Jail are marched in for arraignment.

A prosecutor reads their charges one by one, and public defenders walk up and down the line holding hushed conversations with their new clients. Then the judge makes the decision.

Judges in Cuyahoga County held another meeting on Monday to talk about reforming the bail system, their first gathering since a withering U.S. Marshals Service report on the county jail.

Local judges and other officials have been talking for years about changing the way bail is set, so that fewer defendants await trial from inside a jail cell.

Ohio State

A study commissioned by Franklin County officials finds racial disparities in the bail system and recommends ideas to reduce reliance on cash bond.

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Judges would assess defendants' likelihood of skipping out on court appearances based on a variety of factors instead of a strict system of cash bail, under measures being considered by Ohio lawmakers.

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A new report from conservative think tank The Buckeye Institute says bail reform could save Ohio about $67 million in jail costs.

While a new report calls the state's cash bail system "unfair" to poor defendants, both the Ohio Bail Agents Association and the ACLU of Ohio disagree with a plan to reform the system – for very different reasons.

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A state lawmaker says the way bail is set for people who are arrested can sometimes be a backwards process. He proposes a way to overhaul the system and base it on risk rather than resources.

A state panel is recommending changes to Ohio court practices that often keep defendants in jail because they can't afford bail. 

Retired architect Tom Chudzinski had been travelling the western U.S. in his motor home when he awoke one night to local sheriff's deputies knocking on his door in New Mexico.

Smelling alcohol on Chudzinski's breath, the officers arrested him on the suspicion that he had crashed his RV into a parked vehicle at a nearby truck stop. Although they hadn't seen him driving, they booked him into an Albuquerque jail.

Chudzinski couldn't make bail, so he remained behind bars for 34 days.