CLEVELAND — Big changes are coming to Ohio’s bail system. The Ohio Supreme Court has approved a rule which says cash shouldn’t be the first choice for judges when considering a defendant’s bail.
“You give people the option to return back to court without having any cash attached to it,” said Anthony Body, of The Bail Project.
The new rule goes into effect this July.
Body, who made it his life’s mission to advocate for those facing potential time behind bars, said high-cost, restrictive bonds keep defendants behind bars before they even have a chance at a jury trial.
The Bail Project affords people eligible for bond the opportunity to be released until their day in court.
“We're essentially freedom fighters. We are on a daily basis," Body said. "Five grand for someone who's strapped, strapped on bills, just trying to provide on a daily basis. It's a hard thing to come up with $5,000.”
He added, “Once the disposition has gone through and so forth and now you're deemed innocent, you just spent $5,000 on your freedom. You don't get that money back.”
The 4-2 ruling from the court reduces reliances on cash bonds and requires judges to set low cash bonds, if not electing personal recognizance bonds.
Opponents of bail reform say it’s a public safety issue and that cash bonds help keep violent offenders off the street.
Anthony Sylvester, an Ohio bail bondsman, sees the benefit of reducing bail.
"Bail is not to punish everyone that is, at this point in their journey, innocent until proven guilty. It's still permissive, but it says adopt the standard, that a non-monetary bond will be the first line of defense," Sylvester said.
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