COLUMBUS — Today the ACLU of Ohio urges a “no” vote on State Issue 1, an unnecessary, politically motivated attempt to enshrine cash bail into the Ohio Constitution, under the guise of public safety. This measure will be on the statewide General Election ballot this November.

This misguided effort began in the Ohio Legislature with two identical joint resolutions - HJR 2 and SJR 5. The measures sought to reverse the Supreme Court of Ohio decision in DuBose v. McGuffey, issued in January 2022, which underscored the longstanding constitutional principle that bail is excessive when it exceeds the amount necessary to guarantee the appearance of the accused person.

“Issue 1 amends the Ohio Constitution to fix a nonexistent problem. This proposal was born out of divisive rhetoric to intentionally blur the lines between cash bail and public safety. We know that cash bail does not keep us safe, and this ballot measure only doubles down on the failed status quo, where wealthy individuals can purchase their freedom simply because they have the money to do so,” offered Patrick Higgins, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of Ohio.

Cash bail is not an appropriate or legal tool for keeping people locked up – its sole intent is to ensure people return to court. The Supreme Court of Ohio and the United States Supreme Court agree on this fundamental purpose.

The ACLU of Ohio has been pushing for substantive, comprehensive bail reform for several years, and is a staunch supporter of House Bill 315 – bipartisan legislation that protects the presumption of innocence, enhances public safety, and curbs wealth-based detention. Cash bail creates a two-tiered system of justice in which people who can afford their freedom go home to their families, and those who cannot are forced to suffer in jail. On any given day in Ohio, 12,000 people are held pretrial.

“Issue 1 has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with policy. Ohioans have been calling for a fairer, more effective pretrial system, and Ohio lawmakers can make actual bail reform a reality by passing House Bill 315 this lame duck session. This ballot measure seeks solely to distract from proactive, bipartisan bail reform efforts that have been brewing in Ohio for years. Ohioans deserve justice over jails. Ohioans deserve HB 315,” noted Jocelyn Rosnick, ACLU of Ohio Policy Director.

“This whole effort can be boiled down to guilty until proven wealthy. Cash bail hurts our communities, our economy, and the disproportionate negative impact falls most heavily on our Black and Brown neighbors, and low-income Ohioans. Issue 1 is the antithesis to common-sense bail reform, and we urge Ohioans to cast a “no” vote,” concluded Higgins.