COLUMBUS — Judges in Ohio would be required to consider criminal suspects' threat to public safety when setting bail amounts under a proposed state constitutional amendment being advanced by House and Senate Republicans.
The GOP proposals followed a ruling by a divided Ohio Supreme Court earlier this year that said a $1.5 million bond for a Cincinnati man accused of fatally shooting a man during a robbery was too high.
Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate on Wednesday voted to advance the proposed amendment to the November ballot along partisan lines. Each chamber must now approve the other's resolution.
State Sen. Theresa Gavarone, a Bowling Green Republican, said the measure corrects a court ruling she called a “direct threat to public safety.”
Dissenting Democrats and other opponents call the proposed amendment unnecessary and potentially unconstitutional. They urged lawmakers to approve separate, pending legislation that would eliminate the presumption that cash bail is the first recourse of a judge when setting terms of release.
Supporters of this bipartisan measure, which include several conservative groups, say it gives judges more discretion to keep dangerous offenders behind bars while awaiting trial, while creating a fairer release system for offenders who don’t pose a risk.