bail reform

A new report from the ACLU of Ohio estimates that reforming bail would save local governments as much as $264 million a year.

The report looked at how much it costs to house inmates waiting for trial in four counties in Ohio – Athens, Cuyahoga, Franklin and Vinton counties – and came up with a statewide estimate that also factored in the added costs of pretrial services for those who are released while awaiting a trial.

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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The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected a recommendation that tools used to measure offenders' likelihood of skipping out on court appearances after an arrest be made available to all judges as they make bond decisions.

The number of people housed in the Cuyahoga County Jail continues to go down as improvements to the bail system across the county are implemented, according to members of the Criminal Justice Council.

But advocates for bail reform and improved jail conditions say there’s still work to be done.

With the new year come many new state laws across the country. There are the usual suspects — gun laws, marijuana legalization and housing protections — but there are also some new frontiers: groundbreaking laws concerning Internet user privacy and the classification of contract workers in California, for example.

Here are some of the most notable laws taking effect Jan. 1, in no particular order:

Red flag

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor delivered her State of the Judiciary at the Hilton at Easton on September 12, 2019.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor talked about maintaining public trust in the judiciary, supporting sentencing reform and keeping dockets moving with apps, texting and technology during her State of the Judiciary speech.

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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.

Scales of justice
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Hundreds of crime survivors came to the Statehouse on Wednesday to tell their stories to lawmakers, who are considering changes to bail, sentencing laws and other elements of the criminal justice system.

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.

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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.

Weekly Reporter Roundtable

May 7, 2018
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Today at 10 a.m.

Ohio's primary election day is this Tuesday. We'll look at all the races and the candidates that will be decided, and what it could mean for the general election come November.

We'll also look at new requirements for pain patients to get opiates, bail reforms that could save Ohio taxpayers millions, and more with our panel of reporters.

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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.