Both Policy Matters Ohio and ACLU Ohio support the coalition working to defeat Issue 1 — a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution which would double down on inhumane and ineffective wealth-based detention.

Policy Matters Ohio’s senior researcher Piet van Lier released the following statement:

“Most Ohioans believe that liberty and justice for all means everyone, no matter their race, gender, or income. But under Ohio’s cash bail system, people accused of a crime can be held in jail for days, weeks or months while awaiting trial simply because they can’t afford to buy their freedom. In fact, on any given day, more than 12,000 Ohioans are incarcerated before their trials, the majority not because they pose a threat to anyone but because they can’t afford to pay their way out of jail.

“Ohio lawmakers from both sides of the aisle recognized that holding people in jail simply because they cannot afford bail is not only unjust, it actually places more stress and strain on our communities. That’s why a group of legislators proposed a bipartisan plan to end wealth-based detention in our state.

“Our current cash bail system goes against the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty; Issue 1 seeks to perpetuate this unjust system. By placing Issue 1 on the ballot, some cynical politicians are trying to protect the profits of their backers in the bail industry. They want to make us fear one another so we won’t demand proven approaches to safety.

“Proponents of this constitutional maneuver are creating an issue where none exists. Judges already have — and will continue to have — options to keep people accused of violent crimes off the streets.

“The best way to keep our communities safe and healthy is to reform cash bail, as proposed by House Bill 315 and Senate Bill 182, currently under consideration in the state legislature. According to our review of the research, these bills would mean that fewer individuals accused of crimes but still awaiting trial would lose their jobs, housing, or custody of their children because they can’t afford bail. Research clearly shows the traumatic impact pretrial detention has on the mental and physical health of people held even for short periods of time.

“Ohioans who want truly safe communities should vote no on Issue 1 and push their legislators to pass House Bill 315 and Senate Bill 182 instead.”