Bail reform: Snake oil sold to lawmakers


Robert A. Cornwell - Guest Column



The modern era of bail reform really picked up steam in 2015. Since then, pretrial reform activists have traveled the country decrying the use of monetary conditions of release. The solution they believe is to do away with monetary condition of release and in its place use an algorithm to decide release.

Nobody cared to investigate jail data to see if their claim was true that thousands were there simply because they were indigent. This turned out to be patently false. And no one bothered to look into the science of the algorithm to determine if it was accurate, unbiased and wouldn’t affect judicial discretion. Which turned out to fail on all accounts.

Ohio has not escaped the efforts of the reform activists. They also came to Ohio carrying the exact same messaging they have been using across the country. At first, they advocated for risk tools when they were in vogue and won support among key members of the judiciary and had a risk tool implemented in Ohio. This was fortunate timing for them, as the support for risk tools shortly fell out from under them. For some reason the state of Ohio continues to use risk tools with no legislative oversight.

Not satisfied with their ill-gotten gains they are back this session wanting more and again promising nothing but utopia if they get it. As before there are signs, data and trends emerging that they are yet again trying to snake oil.

The question is: Will Ohioans wake up this time and listen to the very people who work tirelessly, thanklessly and dangerously to keep them safe. Current efforts and proposed changes to the pretrial system are so far reaching that if enacted would resemble extreme reform efforts like the ones undertaken in Houston, Texas.

This month there was a data release from their District Attorney who was once a George Soros backed extreme leftists’ candidate who ran on bail reform. Once her office experienced the utopia world the reformers sold Houston, she is now speaking out.

Since the beginning of bail reform in Harris County, there are these three key findings:

• Re-offending by criminal defendants who have been released on bail is up 87%;

• Bond failures by criminal defendants are up 134%;

• Violent offenses committed by defendants free.

Robert A. Cornwell is the executive director of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association

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Robert A. Cornwell

Guest Column

Robert A. Cornwell is the executive director of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association

Robert A. Cornwell is the executive director of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association

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