The state constitution says anyone can be bailed by “sufficient sureties,” unless they’re charged with a capital offense or felony when “proof is evident or the presumption great,” and if their release poses a risk to the community. The proposed amendment would remove that language, instead saying only that in setting bail, courts must consider public safety, the person’s criminal record, the likelihood they would flee and seriousness of their offense.
Swearingen has amended the resolution to add “any factor that the General Assembly may describe” to those conditions.
House Bill 607 echoes the language of the proposed constitutional amendment.
“In all cases, bail must be fixed with consideration of the seriousness of the offense charged, the previous criminal record of the defendant, and the probability of the defendant appearing at the trial of the case,” says an analysis from the state Legislative Research Commission. “The bill expands these factors to require that bail must be fixed with consideration of all relevant information, including the risk to public safety.”
State Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Huron, has introduced a companion to HJR 2. Senate Joint Resolution 5 had its first hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1.
The ACLU of Ohio urged rejection of both measures. It supports a rival bill, House Bill 315, which is still in the House Criminal Justice Committee. That bill, sponsored by state Reps. David Leland, D-Columbus, and Brett Hillyer, R-Uhrichsville, seeks to end the wealth-based disparity in treatment created by someone’s ability to pay cash bail.
Leland said in committee his bill’s most important provision is a “massive expansion” of the rules for pretrial detention, adding more than 50 crimes to the list of those for which a judge would need to determine the risk that releasing a prisoner would pose to others.
A Senate bill matching HB 315, sponsored by state Sens. Rob McColley, R-Napoleon, and Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.