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Statewide poll shows 67% of Ohioans believe in reforming bail system that considers individual's circumstances, not someone's wallet

Posted at 9:34 AM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 12:33:51-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A new statewide public opinion poll on voters’ view of criminal justice and the pretrial system revealed that 75% of voters believe the current system is deeply flawed and believe bail reform policies should be put in place.

"This opinion poll reflects a growing, bipartisan understanding that money should not determine access to justice and incarceration before trial cannot be the norm in a democracy," said Twyla Carter, national policy director at The Bail Project. "And Ohioans are not alone. Across the country, Americans are beginning to see cash bail for what it is: a policy that criminalizes race and poverty. It is long past time to end it."

The ACLU of Ohio, Ohio Conservatives for Bail Reform, the Bail Project and other organizations participated in conducting the poll that surveyed 800 voters across Ohio from Dec. 13 to Dec. 18, 2020.

"Ohioans are overwhelmingly in strong support of getting rid of wealth-based pretrial detention schemes, and for very good reason. In what other scenario can an arbitrary factor—like the size of your wallet—keep you locked up just because you can’t buy your freedom? People’s lives are broken apart in as few as 48 hours. First, you lose custody of your kids, then your job, then your housing. These poll results should drive imminent change to the criminal legal system in Ohio,” said Kevin Werner, policy director with Ohio Justice and Policy Center.

Poll highlights include:

  • 69% believe in creating a release path for most people to go home on the same day as their arrest if they do not pose a flight risk and are not a threat to anyone else.
  • 77% favored requiring a hearing on release options and conditions in front of a judge within 48 hours of detention.
  • 71% believed the court should provide text reminders of court dates to people’s phones for those accused of a crime.
  • 67% favored “reforming Ohio’s bail system so that release decisions are based on individual circumstances and cases and not how much money someone has.”

During a news conference Wednesday, the ACLU said people who remain in jail pre-trail because they can’t afford to pay cash bail are put at risk of losing their jobs, homes and custody of their children.

“These results affirm what we’ve been hearing for years: Ohioans want bail reform. Cash bail doesn’t promote public safety; it just allows wealthy people to buy their freedom. Enacting commonsense bail reform policies will make Ohio a more equitable place and could also save our state up to $264 million per year,” said Claire Chevrier, policy counsel for the ACLU of Ohio.

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