New Ohio Bail Reform Plan Excludes Key Recommendation

Jan 21, 2020
Originally published on January 21, 2020 8:01 pm

Ohio's highest court has rejected a recommendation to allow judges throughout the state use “risk-assessment tools” to determine the amount of bail they require from defendants. 

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor says too many people are stuck in jail because they cannot afford bail. She says that shouldn't be happening.

“People are of the belief, the public is, that you set a high bail to keep somebody in jail. That’s not what bail is intended to be," O'Connor says.

One key idea that was considered in the recommendations the Ohio Supreme Court suggested for new cour rules to the legislature but ultimately rejected was providing "risk-assessment tools" to local courts.  The idea was to give judges a list of factors that could help them determine how much bail to require of an offender and the conditions of their release.

“It is not a mandate and it is not a directive that the judges even have to take into consideration," O'Connor says. 

But the panel did recommend that courts look at other alternatives besides cash bail, such as electronic monitoring. The panel also recommend courts determine pretrial supervision based on whether a defendant is a flight risk or is dangerous, and not their ability to pay.

The recommendations came from a report the panel put together last summer.

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