Cleveland Municipal Court Begins Reforming Its Bail System
Cleveland’s municipal court is working with a private organization to reform the way it sets bail to make the system more equitable.
Cleveland court officials hope the risk assessment formula developed by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation will help the court release more defendants before trial without making them post bail.
Like many cities, Cleveland judges initially set bail. And because many times they don’t have much information on the defendants, they set it high to be cautious. Cleveland defense attorney Gordon Friedman says a change is needed.
“Obviously, poor people who find themselves in court generally cannot make bail; they don’t have the resources to do it. Granted, some of these people have committed serious offenses and the safety of the community has to be kept into consideration. However our jails cannot handle the number of people who are in them because they cannot make bail.”
The Arnold Foundation uses nine factors to set bail, including age, criminal history and potential for violence. Thirty U.S. jurisdictions use the program, including Lucas County in Northwest Ohio.