by J.D. Davidson


Ohio voters will decide in November on a bail reform measure that could move the state toward cash bail and requires judges to consider public safety when setting bail provisions.

Attorney General Dave Yost praised the passage of House Joint Resolution 2 and Senate Joint Resolution 5 as issues that came in response to an Ohio Supreme Court decision upholding an appeals court ruling that public safety cannot be considered when determining bail.

“Today’s vote by the General Assembly returns the power back to all Ohioans who will now decide if the safety of the public should be considered by judges when determining the monetary amount of bail,” Yost said. “I expect many Ohioans will be shocked to learn that judges are not currently permitted to consider the threat an offender poses to a community when setting financial conditions of bail.”

Opponents say the proposed amendment calls for the state’s increased reliance on cash bail, which would negatively impact low-income people in jail awaiting trial.

The ACLU of Ohio said the resolutions are an attempt to pull attention from bipartisan bail reform bills and blur the lines between cash bail and public safety.

“Bail reform as we know it is under attack. HJR2 and SJR5 are distracting from proactive, bipartisan bail reform efforts that have been brewing for years. Ohioans need real pretrial fairness, not partisan schemes and false narratives,” Patrick Higgins, policy counsel for the ACLU of Ohio, said in a statement. “Since its inception, cash bail’s purpose has been – and continues to be – ensuring court appearance for individuals accused of crimes. Cash bail does not promote public safety, is just allows people with money to purchase their freedom.”

Senate Bill 182 and House Bill 315, both bail reform bills that remain in committees, drew support from policy groups, including Columbus-based The Buckeye Institute.

“Changing Ohio’s constitution to expand cash bail will not prevent dangerous, violent offenders from buying their way out of jail and preying on our communities,” said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute. “As currently written, House Joint Resolution 2 simply does not provide the level of public safety Ohioans deserve, and we can do better.”

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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is a regional editor to The Center Square. 
Background Photo “Voting Booths” by Tim Evanson. CC BY-SA 2.0.