Ohio’s Cash Bail System Unjust


John Pfaff was quoted in The Vindicator about Ohio’s bail system.

According a recent report by the conservative Buckeye Institute, lawmakers, lawyers and the Ohio Sentencing Commission have all “decried the injustices of the status quo cash bail system.” “Under Ohio’s current bail system, pretrial release is determined by the amount of money a person has access to rather than the actual threat the person poses to the community,” said The Buckeye Institute’s Daniel J. Drew. The current bail system denies freedom to thousands of people who are presumed innocent but are financially challenged. Those who sit in jail are at risk of losing their jobs, their homes and their families.

A number of Ohio advocacy groups have been pushing for the use of risk-assessment tools, reported the Plain Dealer of Cleveland. As a result, the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission formed a committee on bail and pretrial services to study the issue. The commission released a report earlier this year that recommended courts establish a pretrial system that uses an “empirically based assessment tool” to help determine if somebody should be released from jail or kept in detention while awaiting trial. The Ohio Legislature responded with a proposed law, which would require courts to use the results of a “validated risk assessment tool” as part of their bail-setting decisions. As the pool of research grows and the science of risk assessment becomes more refined, “We actually have increasingly good models of who poses a risk and who doesn’t pose a risk,” John Pfaff, a professor of law at Fordham University, told The Washington Post.

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