Ohio Could Save Big by Implementing Bail Reform: A Fiscal Impact Analysis

September 13, 2020

On any given day in Ohio, as many as 12,000 people are held in jail pretrial. Most are jailed not because of what they've allegedly done, but because of what they don't have. It's obvious that holding people in jail unnecessarily must be expensive, but we wanted to learn just how expensive. The ACLU of Ohio embarked on a two-year project and hired an expert economist to determine what cost savings could be realized if Ohio were to adopt common sense bail reform. The numbers are in, and they are astonishing.

We estimate our policy recemmendations would save Ohio $199 to $264 million each year.

Together with community activists, organizational leaders, and impacted individuals, we developed policy recommendations seeking to promote public safety and end wealth-based detention. Our recommendations are simple: create a release valve for everyone, much like the one that currently exists only for the wealthy. Instead of resources determining someone's freedom, we propose that most people go home on the same day as their arrest, and for those who pose a flight risk or a threat to a specific person, a conditions of release or detention hearing should be held within 48 hours.