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ACLU Of Ohio Estimates Up To $264 Million In Savings With Bail Reform

A new report from the ACLU of Ohio estimates that reforming bail would save local governments as much as $264 million a year.

The report looked at how much it costs to house inmates waiting for trial in four counties in Ohio – Athens, Cuyahoga, Franklin and Vinton counties – and came up with a statewide estimate that also factored in the added costs of pretrial services for those who are released while awaiting a trial.

“We propose that through a strong presumption of release, most people charged with a crime should be released the same day as their arrest,” said Claire Chevrier, Policy Director for ACLU of Ohio. “Unless a prosecutor or a judge is concerned that the person is a flight risk or poses a risk to a specific person, in which case a conditions of release hearing should be held.”

Representatives from ACLU of Ohio released the report Thursday with a politically diverse group of bail reform supporters, including Micah Derry from the conservative group Americans for Prosperity and Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.

“You cannot point to a benefit of having someone who is not dangerous or a flight risk of being detained pre-trial,” O’Connor said.

Cuyahoga County has worked for years to reform how bail works countywide, with little success. Each judge has discretion over pretrial release for their own cases. The Ohio Supreme Court issued new rules on setting bail this year, but leaves it up to judges to choose the “least restrictive” form of pretrial release.

“We did want to get this information in the hands of legislators so they could start considering it for the next budget round,” Chevrier said. “All of our policy proposals that are in this report are geared toward legislators. We do think that legislative action is probably the best vessel for bail reform now.”

Several states, including New York, New Jersey and Georgia have adopted bail reform recently. But New York’s movement toward a no-bail system may be rolled back after a spike in crime.

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