All Cuyahoga County courts should transition from a bail system based on bond schedules, which vary widely from one court to the next, to a centralized, consistent, and comprehensive system of pretrial services initiated immediately after arrest. For most minor offenses, the presumption should be release on personal recognizance. Money bail should not be used to simply detain defendants. Rather than relying on bond schedules, courts should assess each defendant’s risk of non-appearance and danger to the community using a uniform risk assessment tool. If money bail is considered, courts should evaluate each defendant’s risk of non-appearance and ability to pay, and then tailor money bail accordingly. A more robust and early evaluation of each defendant, using particularized information from a single, uniform database about a defendant’s criminal history and pending cases, as well as a risk assessment tool, would give judges better information upon which to make pretrial release decisions. Prompt centralized bail hearings before a judge, with defense counsel present, for all defendants in common pleas and municipal courts throughout the county would facilitate early and improved access to pretrial processes and services designed to reduce the risk of nonappearance and danger to the community. This system would lessen collateral consequences for the accused, such as loss of employment or housing while waiting in jail, and result in significant cost savings to government by reducing unnecessary detention.
Witmer-Rich, Jonathan; Milano, Jay; Naso, Carmen; and Trapp, Mary Jane, "Cuyahoga County Bail Task Force: Report and Recommendations" (2018). Law Faculty Reports and Comments. 9.