Action Alert
Urge Ohio Lawmakers to Improve Bail Reform Bill!

Our bail system is broken and we must take action now to fix it.

Imagine being accused of a crime, having the judge set a bail amount that you and your family could not afford, and then languishing in a jail cell for days, weeks or even months on end awaiting trial. While you sit in jail, you lose your job, your housing, and your family struggles to make ends meet. You have not been convicted of a crime, and are presumed innocent under the law. This is a daily reality for far too many Ohioans.

Ohio legislators introduced House Bill 439 to address the broken bail system in Ohio – but it doesn't go far enough. HB 439 would require courts to use a risk assessment tool in misdemeanor cases to determine whether a person should be held in jail, but it does not do away with the corrupt use of money bail overall. The simple fact that legislators are addressing this issue is a step forward, but more must be done.

If you agree that freedom shouldn't depend on how much money you have in your bank account – then add your name to support comprehensive bail reform!

Representatives Dever and Ginter, sponsors of HB 439, should embrace the following items to achieve systemic bail reform:

  1. The total elimination of money bail for all misdemeanor and some felony charges. The use of money bail for low-level offenses does not make the public safer! It creates a two-tier system where wealthier people accused of a crime go free, while people with limited-means, accused of the SAME crime, remain incarcerated.

  2. Requiring that risk assessment tools be used when setting bail in felony level cases, not just misdemeanor cases. Judges should have the option of assessing risk, rather than immediately setting a cash bail amount.

  3. Requiring courts to provide a public defendant for those who cannot otherwise afford an attorney at initial bail hearings.

  4. Collection and compilation of race-based data. Tracking the race of the accused can help us determine where in Ohio, and by how much, our bail system affects people of color. This will help the courts and the Criminal Sentencing Commission analyze racial biases.

Urge Representatives Dever and Ginter to improve their bail reform bill by incorporating these changes that are rooted in justice, fairness, and fact.

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Message Recipients:
Your State Lower Chamber Representatives
Jonathan Dever, Representative (District 28)
Timothy Ginter, Representative (District 5)
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I am writing to urge you to improve HB 439 and to accept the ACLU of Ohio's proposed recommendations to reform Ohio's broken bail system.
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Again, I urge you to end cash bail, expand risk-assessment requirements to felony convictions, and examine the racial disparities seen in our current bail practices.
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