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Coalition Demands Bail Reform In Hamilton County

Bill Rinehart
Public Defender Ray Faller (left) and Stephen Johnsongrove (center) speak Friday morning about bail reform.

Hamilton County's sheriff has proposed reopening the Queensgate facility to alleviate jail overcrowding. Jim Neill says the Justice Center is currently housing about twice as many prisoners than it was designed for.

Public Defender Ray Faller is instead calling for bail reform for non-violent, non-sexual misdemeanor charges.

"We'd like to see a presumption of release without a cash bond for everybody. We have a fabulous pretrial services division in this county that can monitor people prior to trial. If someone is a danger to a particular person or the community, they can be put on electronic monitoring. Things like that are a lot cheaper than building more jails," he says.

Faller says the Ohio legislature could make some changes, but judges do have a say in the issue. He's part of a coalition calling for the reforms.

The Ohio Justice and Policy Center's Stephen JohnsonGrove says Kentucky has statewide bail reform. He says New Jersey abolished cash bail.

"Now is the time for the Hamilton County Sheriff, commissioners and judges to think 'do we want bail reform forced upon us by litigation or do we want to get ahead of it and institute intelligent reforms?'"

JohnsonGrove says keeping people locked up because they can't afford bail disrupts many lives.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.