Bipartisan bill seeks to reduce use of cash bail

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 25, 2021

COLUMBUS (AP) — Cash bonds for criminal defendants couldn’t exceed 25 percent of individuals’ monthly income and hearings for conditions of jail release would have to take place within 48 hours of an arrest, under a bill in the Ohio Senate meant to address growing calls to reduce the use of cash bond.

Personal recognizance bonds, which don’t require cash bail, should also be the baseline for release as long as defendants are guaranteed to appear for future hearings and public safety isn’t endangered, under the bill introduced earlier this week by GOP Sens. Rob McColley of Napoleon and Steve Huffman of Tipp City.

Rep. David Leland, a Columbus Democrat, says a proposed companion bill in the Ohio House already has 45 sponsors and co-sponsors, Gongwer News Service reported.

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Both progressive and conservative groups have been calling for years for the reduction or elimination of cash bond, saying it sets already struggling people further behind by putting them at risk of losing jobs while behind bars and disconnecting them from family support.

In March, the Ohio Supreme Court adopted a new rule requiring that non-cash bonds must be the first choice for judges when setting bail conditions for releasing defendants from jail.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor is a longtime proponent of reducing reliance on cash bail.