Ohio sheriffs, county commissioners calling for bail reform

The County Commissioners Association of Ohio and the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association are calling for bail reform that would prevent nonviolent, misdemeanor suspects from crowding jails, the Akron Beacon Journal reported this month. The County Commissioners...

Ohio sheriffs, county commissioners calling for bail reform

The County Commissioners Association of Ohio and the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association are calling for bail reform that would prevent nonviolent, misdemeanor suspects from crowding jails, the Akron Beacon Journal reported this month.

The County Commissioners Association wants the state to adopt a system that bases pretrial release on defendants' risks of flight and potential to commit crimes, rather than their ability to pay bail, the association wrote in its 2017-2018 legislative platform.

Sheriffs' Association Executive Director Bob Cornwell told cleveland.com that his group supports reforms that will reduce the number of poor, low-risk defendants in jail.

"If someone fails to show for paying a traffic ticket, they lay in our jail for a few days or so, and we have bad people out there we need to lock up. Not nonviolent [defendants] who can't pay their bail," Cornwell said in a phone interview.

The calls for reform come as state and Cuyahoga County officials consider making changes that could decrease the number of people jailed while awaiting trial. Dozens of other jurisdictions across the country have also adopted or are weighing bail reforms.

Read about some of those reforms below as part of Justice For All, a cleveland.com series about bail reform:

Maryland's high court mandates risk-based bail system: The Maryland Court of Appeals voted Feb. 7 to make changes to the state's bail system that will stop poor people from languishing behind bars simply because they cannot afford bail.

The seven judges unanimously agreed to adopt a new rule, effective July 1, that requires judges to impose the "least onerous" bail conditions if the defendant is not deemed a flight risk or potential danger to the community, The Washington Post reports. Judges must also consider the defendant's ability to pay.

The court's Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure recommended the rule change. Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh has also pushed for reforms he said would enhance fairness in the bail system.

Connecticut lawmakers will again consider bail reform bill: Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is trying again to reform the state's bail system and curb the jailing of suspects solely because they can't afford bail.

Lawmakers have agreed to consider Malloy's recommendations, and The Connecticut General Assembly Judiciary Committee plans to draft a bill mirroring Malloy's proposal.

Malloy recommended in his 2017 budget that the state abolish the use of bail for  defendants who are accused of misdemeanors and are considered likely to show up for court and stay out of trouble if released, the Meriden, Ct. Record-Journal reports.

A similar proposal Malloy made last year died in the legislature. Lawmakers said there was support for the general idea of bail reform, but Malloy's bill left out key provisions, according to The Connecticut Mirror. Namely, legislators wanted a requirement that judges consider defendants' risk of flight and potential to commit crimes if released.

The Connecticut Sentencing Commission also released a report detailing deficiencies in Connecticut's bail practices earlier this month. The commission found that bail does not increase the likelihood someone will not be rearrested if released or skip their next court appearance. It also reported that the state lacks uniform bail-setting policies.

Illinois state rep. introduces bill to abolish bail: Illinois Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, introduced a bill last week aimed at abolishing the state's bail system, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Mitchell's legislation proposes judges release defendants who are considered to be a low risk without making them pay, and jail people deemed a potential danger or flight risk without the opportunity to post bail.

Mitchell's bill would also require clerks to publicly report on people arrested, released and detained on a quarterly basis. The reports would include charges, the judge that set bail, failure-to-appear rates and the number of people who commit crimes while on pretrial release.

Mitchell worked with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart on the legislation. Dart has been outspoken about the need for bail reform, and called for an end to the use of bail in November.

According to Mitchell, about 62 percent of people in the Cook County Jail are pretrial defendants who have not posted bail.

"In our current system, whether or not someone is in jail has more to do with wealth than risk," he said.

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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