cash bail

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.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund, which bails low-income people out of jail or immigration detention, used to run on a shoestring budget.

"We were always in need of more money," says board member Mirella Ceja-Orozco, " constantly writing grant proposals ... to kind of figure out how we could obtain money to last us for the next few months."

In 2018, the last year it filed its taxes, the group had about $150,000. It had to turn down a lot of requests for assistance because of a lack of funds.

Franklin County jail in downtown Columbus.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

A small group of lawyers and activists known as the Columbus Freedom Fund has received tens of thousands of dollars in donations to bail out protesters arrested during recent demonstrations. The group's sudden rise to prominence, however, has raised questions: Who are they, and how exactly are they using the money?

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.

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.
LIESL BONNEAU

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.

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.