Hillyer Speaks on Bail Reform Legislation

COLUMBUS – State Representative Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville) today delivered sponsor testimony on House Bill 315, legislation that would create comprehensive reform of the bail process in the state of Ohio.

House Bill 315 would overhaul the broken bail system in Ohio that oftentimes leaves Ohioans facing inequity in the Ohio justice system. To achieve this, the bill would require that within 48 hours of most offenses, after detention, a hearing is to be conducted to set the terms of release for that individual, specific to that crime and case. Then, if the court deems that person to be a flight risk or other risk, they can have bail enforced upon them. That bail would then be based upon 25 percent of what that individual’s end of month net income is.

During his testimony, Hillyer noted that on any given day, more than 60 percent of the people in Ohio jails are there because of their inability to secure funds for their cash bail. Their imprisonment is merely based on their economic stature and not in alignment with the Eight Amendment of the United States Constitution, which states that “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.”

“Ohioans resoundingly support bail reform,” said Hillyer. “House Bill strives to create a bail system that is fair and just for the individuals who have been charged with crimes here in Ohio. After all, the justice system in the United States operates under the legal assumption that all citizens are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

Studies show cash bail disproportionately harms people of color in Ohio, cash bail makes Ohioans less safe and bail reform would save Ohio taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Additionally, a public opinion poll conducted by The Tarrance Group revealed that 69% of Ohioans support creating a release path for most people to go home on the same day as their arrest if they do not pose a flight risk and are not a threat to anyone else.

Hillyer concluded, “Two individuals charged with the same crime, given the same bail, one could serve 28 days in jail until they are able to get to the hearing at which they plead guilty to the offense and the other could serve 2 or 3 days simply because they could afford the bail that was set. In this situation the outcomes for these two was completely different and that outcome was reflective of only the economic means and resources of the individuals. This bill has the potential to create an evenhanded justice system that Ohio’s bail process so desperately needs.”

The Ohio Senate has introduced a companion piece of legislation to House Bill 315, Senate Bill 182, which had its first hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. House Bill 315 will continue to have hearings in the House Criminal Justice Committee.