Bail reform: snake oil sold to lawmakers

The modern era of bail reform really gained momentum in 2015. Since then, bailout reform activists have crisscrossed the country to denounce the use of monetary conditions of release. According to them, the solution is to remove the monetary condition of release and instead use an algorithm to decide on release.

No one bothered to investigate the prison data to see if their claim was true that thousands of people were there just because they were destitute. This turned out to be patently false. And no one bothered to examine the science of the algorithm to determine if it was accurate, impartial, and wouldn’t affect judges’ discretion. Which turned out to be a failure on all accounts.

Ohio has not escaped the efforts of reform activists. They also came to Ohio with the exact same message that they used across the country. At first, they advocated for risk management tools when they were in vogue and gained support from key members of the judiciary and implemented a risk management tool in Ohio. It was a good time for them, as support for risk tools quickly slipped away from them. For some reason, the state of Ohio continues to use risk management tools without legislative oversight.

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

The question is, will the people of Ohio wake up this time and listen to the very people who work tirelessly, mercilessly and dangerously to keep them safe. The current efforts and proposed changes to the pre-trial system are of such magnitude that if passed they would resemble extreme reform efforts like those undertaken in Houston, Texas.

This month there was a data release from their district attorney who was once a far-left candidate backed by George Soros who ran for bail reform. Once her office experienced the utopian world the reformers sold in Houston, she is speaking now.

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

• The recidivism of defendants released on bail is up 87%;

• Bail failures for criminal defendants are up 134%;

• Violent offenses committed by free defendants.

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