Statewide bail reform in Ohio being called for

With jails bulging due to the opiate epidemic, county-level officials across the state are calling for the legislature and the Ohio Supreme Court to fix a bail system that is contributing heavily to the overcrowding problem.

Both the County Commissioners’ Association of Ohio and the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association want to reduce jail populations through the adoption of a revamped system that more accurately assesses the risks that defendants pose to the public.

The organizations rightly argue that the ability to make even a modest bail is beyond the reach for many defendants, leading to county jails filled with poor defendants who pose no real risk to the public.

According to the county commissioners’ association, more than 60 percent of the average daily jail population in the state is made up of individuals who are not yet sentenced and unable to post bond…

What the statewide groups are aiming to reduce sharply is the common practice of courts holding to a bond schedule for various offenses. While meant to reflect broadly the potential risk to public safety, the method results in incarceration based mainly on an inability to pay.

Many of those in jail are nonviolent offenders with chronic drug and alcohol problems. Statewide bail reform promises significant savings to cash-strapped county governments and officials are right in calling for change.