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Poll concludes most Ohioans want bail reform, better treatment of poor defendants

August 27, 2018

Poll concludes most Ohioans want bail reform, better treatment of poor defendants

CLEVELAND, Ohio - A poll released by the ACLU of Ohio and the Pretrial Justice Institute on Monday finds that 54 percent of Ohioans “support major reforms to the criminal justice system” and that three-quarters of them believe wealthy people receive better treatment from the courts. 

 Other poll results include: 

Seventy-two percent of respondents “support providing reliable transportation to court for individuals awaiting trial.” 

Seventy percent of respondents “support limiting the number of days most Ohioans can remain in jail before trial.” 

Fifty-five percent of respondents support releasing individuals without requiring them to put up money to secure a bond. 

 “The poll in Ohio confirms what we’ve already seen coming out of national polls – which is that voters care about bail reform and have a fundamental understanding that our pretrial system is not just,” stated ACLU of Ohio policy counsel Caitlin Hill in a written statement. “Left unchanged, our use of money bail will continue to create a two-tier system of justice, where people with financial means can buy their freedom, and poorer people cannot.” 

Cleveland.com has advocated for reform of the region’s inequitable bail systems as part of its ongoing series, Justice for All.  Shortly after the launch of the series, officials in Cuyahoga County and in Columbus began looking at issues of bail reform. Local law enforcement officials led by John J. Russo, presiding and administrative judge of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, recently formed the Criminal Justice Council to study and implement justice reforms, including making the system fairer to poor defendants. 

Also, a bill that has stalled in the Ohio General Assembly calls for courts to take steps to, among other things, reduce the jail population across Ohio by having judges do a better job assessing the risk of defendants skipping court or getting in trouble if released before trial. 

The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners, questioned 537 registered voters in Ohio over the phone from May 2 and May 17 of this year, and the “percentages reflect the view of Ohio voters of all major demographic groups, political affiliations, and geographical regions throughout Ohio,” according to the ACLU and the Pretrial Justice Institute. 

Lake Research Partners, based in Washington, D.C., is a political strategy consultant that works on progressive causes. 

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