Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Sounds Off on the Latest Round of Bail Reform Legislation in Ohio

Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Sounds Off on the Latest Round of Bail Reform Legislation in Ohio

The Ohio legislature is poised to take another run at reforming the pretrial and bail system in Ohio with the introduction of Senate Bill 182 and House Bill 315.

What does SB 182 and HB 315 do?

SB 182 and HB 315 eliminate judicial discretion to require financial conditions of release, unconstitutionally discriminates against those charged with certain acts, sets up elaborate roadblocks for judges to consider any financial condition for release, removes public safety as a consideration for setting a monetary bond, and creates a right to “affordable” bail for all crimes.

Click here for a more in-depth brief of SB 182 / HB 315

By creating a right to an affordable bail, no one will be held pending trial.  All bonds will be posted.  Period.  Or they cannot be imposed.  Most will be zero dollars.  Under this scheme we can expect that New York’s failed bail reform experiment will be replicated in Ohio, but on a much larger scale involving more serious offenders.  New York’s original law enumerated specific crimes that are violent or serious crimes where bail would be allowed, which was later adjusted to allow for even more crimes.  In Ohio, this right to an affordable bail applies to all crimes.

The only people who will benefit from this legislation will be the people that judges currently assign bail or non-monetary conditions within their discretion, which will be over-ruled by this legislation.

Who is championing this legislation?

Arnold Ventures (formally the Arnold Foundation, creator and advocate of the Arnold Foundation pretrial risk assessment tool) is working hard to promote this legislation as a “powerful and bipartisan bail reform” bill that has united a coalition to “end wealth-based detention.”  The former Enron Billionaire John Arnold has turned his once non-profit risk tool advocate machine into a powerful lobby house determined to upend the criminal justice system.  In fact, their most recent publication in September claims the Ohio legislation will “reshape” the criminal justice system.  According to Arnold Ventures, “One principle is that a highly functioning judicial system will have extremely limited use of pretrial detention.”  In other words, there is an extremely liberal policy of release, contained in SB 182 and HB 315.

Arnold would also have you believe that law enforcement is fully engaged in supporting SB 182 and its companion bill.  Their claim is based solely on the support of Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP).  Among LEAP’s long list of issues is their mission to “eliminate cash bail.”  This should come as no surprise considering LEAP’s major funding comes from Open Society Foundation founded by George Soros.

What do Ohio Law Enforcement really think about SB 182 / HB 315?

Guest columnist Robert A. Cornwell, Executive Director of the Buckeye State’s Sheriffs Association recently penned a letter to the editor entitled Bail Reform: Snake Oil sold to lawmakers.

Cornwell, who represents all 88 sheriffs in Ohio and 2,500 sheriff’s office employees, had this to say about the most recent push on bail reform in Ohio:

The modern era of bail reform really picked up steam in 2015. Since then, pretrial reform activists have traveled the country decrying the use of monetary conditions of release. The solution they believe is to do away with monetary condition of release and in its place use an algorithm to decide release.


Nobody cared to investigate jail data to see if their claim was true that thousands were there simply because they were indigent. This turned out to be patently false. And no one bothered to look into the science of the algorithm to determine if it was accurate, unbiased and wouldn’t affect judicial discretion. Which turned out to fail on all accounts.


Ohio has not escaped the efforts of the reform activists. They also came to Ohio carrying the exact same messaging they have been using across the country. At first, they advocated for risk tools when they were in vogue and won support among key members of the judiciary and had a risk tool implemented in Ohio. This was fortunate timing for them, as the support for risk tools shortly fell out from under them. For some reason the state of Ohio continues to use risk tools with no legislative oversight.


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


The question is: Will Ohioans wake up this time and listen to the very people who work tirelessly, thanklessly and dangerously to keep them safe. Current efforts and proposed changes to the pretrial system are so far reaching that if enacted would resemble extreme reform efforts like the ones undertaken in Houston, Texas.


This month there was a data release from their District Attorney who was once a George Soros backed extreme leftists’ candidate who ran on bail reform. Once her office experienced the utopia world the reformers sold Houston, she is now speaking out.


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

  • Re-offending by criminal defendants who have been released on bail is up 87%;

  • Bond failures by criminal defendants are up 134%;

  • Violent offenses committed by defendants free.

Senate Bill 182 and House Bill 315 represent the most radical bail reform legislation that has been proposed in any state in quite some time.  Think New York Bail reform, but worse.

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