New Buckeye Institute Research Finds Bail Reform Could Save Ohio Communities $67 Million

May 02, 2018

Columbus, OH – New research by The Buckeye Institute found that Ohio’s proposed reforms to its broken cash bail system could save an estimated $67 million in jail costs, while providing a fairer, more efficient way to keep Ohio’s communities safe and secure.

“Ohio’s cash bail system is broken and the reforms pending in the General Assembly could save hard-earned taxpayer dollars while keeping our communities safe,” said Daniel J. Dew, a legal fellow with Buckeye’s Legal Center and the author of “Money Bail”: Making Ohio a More Dangerous Place to Live. “Even setting aside important issues of justice, fairness, and public safety that have all been compromised by the current money bail system, the needless amount of money spent jailing people accused of low-level crimes alone is enough to justify Ohio’s proposed bail reform initiative.”

In this new research, The Ohio Model for Bail Reform: Retaining Local Flexibility and Saving Money, Dew, and analysts with Buckeye’s Economic Research Center, looked at Summit County, which uses a verified risk-assessment tool to inform pretrial detention decisions. They found that Ohio could see an annual cost savings of $67,136,121 if it reforms its cash bail system and gives judges greater flexibility to use proven, evidence-based, risk-assessment tools to assess the risk an individual poses to the community rather than relying on cash bail.

In Ohio, jail is far more expensive than supervised release, with the average jail bed costing almost $65 per day, compared to $5 per day for supervised release. Summit County, which has already implemented a verified risk-assessment tool, has estimated that it saved $7.3 million in one year by adopting a pretrial risk-assessment tool and relying less on the money-bail system.

“Even accounting for its relatively large pretrial population and high daily-jail-bed cost, Summit County’s early results suggest that pretrial reforms could provide substantial cost-savings across the rest of the state,” Dew wrote in The Ohio Model for Bail Reform. “The proposed reforms give local jurisdictions more flexibility to implement changes and find cost savings than any other statewide bail reform initiative in the country.”

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