GOP lawmakers, Ohio AG, want public safety a factor in bail

Bail reform
Posted at 3:37 PM, Mar 29, 2022

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Judges in Ohio would be required to consider criminal suspects’ threat to public safety when setting bail amounts under a state constitutional amendment proposed by Republican lawmakers that could go before voters this fall.

The proposal announced Tuesday follow a ruling by a divided Ohio Supreme Court earlier this year that a $1.5 million bond for a Cincinnati man accused of fatally shooting a man during a robbery was too high. The court voted 4-3 to uphold a lower court decision that lowered the bond to $500,000.

The Supreme Court majority said safety concerns expressed by the victim’s family members, and evidence that the suspect presented a false ID when confronted after fleeing to Las Vegas, weren’t factors relevant to the amount of bail.

The court did say that public safety concerns could be met by other requirements, such as electronic monitoring, which was done in the case of the Cincinnati murder suspect, according to court records. He was also banned from contacting the victim’s family.

The proposed amendment to the state constitution, backed by GOP Attorney General Dave Yost, was introduced in the state House by Reps. Jeff LaRe and D.J. Swearingen and in the state Senate by Sen. Theresa Gavarone.