bail reform

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hamilton county justice center
Ann Thompson / WVXU

The bail system is meant to ensure an individual appears in court after he or she is charged with a crime and to promote public safety. But some research shows requiring cash bail keeps many individuals locked up simply because they can't afford to pay, and that it does not make society safer.

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Statistics show Kentucky jails a higher percentage of people than most states, ninth overall and second for women, and the ACLU is calling for legislative action to alleviate the overcrowding.

The chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court says there’s a growing movement across the nation to reform the pre-trial justice system. 

John Minton, Jr. says the current method of setting bail disproportionately affects low-income defendants who aren’t able to pay for release after being charged with low-level, non-violent offenses.

“We don’t need to lose sight of the number one, bedrock principle and that is the presumption of innocence operates in every case, so that presumption does not need to be lost," Minton told WKU Public Radio.

Ohio Considers Bail Reform

Feb 26, 2018
Alpha Stock Images

The bail reform movement has been around for decades but is taking on new life as proposals are being introduced in a growing number of states. Ohio is one of the latest states to consider the issue, in the form of House Bill 439. Supporters say bail reform will lead to fewer defendants being held in jail simply because they can’t afford to pay. Critics say the idea is good, but, as the movement has grown, there have been problems associated with it.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

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.