jail, prison, corrections, guard

(The Center Square) – Soon, Ohio judges must consider public safety when setting bail.

With Ohio voters overwhelmingly approving Issue 1 – 77.56% to 22.44% – as voting ending Tuesday, the state’s bail system changed Wednesday with the provision the new rules take effect immediately upon passage. Votes still must be certified, which will happen Nov. 29.

The General Assembly took up the issue in House Joint Resolution 2 after an Ohio Supreme Court ruling in DuBose v. McGuffey, which held public safety is not a consideration with respect to the financial condition of bail and is not a relevant factor in determining the amount of bail.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who began working on a response to the court’s ruling in the spring, called the General Assembly’s vote to put the question before Ohio voters important.

Currently, courts must only consider factors such as the nature and circumstances of the crime charged, the weight of the evidence, and the defendant’s personal background and record.

Opponents had called Issue 1 dangerous, saying it encourages courts to gamble on public safety rather than using existing laws to deny bail completely and it hurts crime victims by giving violent criminals an option for bail.

Voters also overwhelming passed Issue 2 – 77.1% to 22.9% – which makes it illegal for non-U.S. citizens to vote in municipal elections.

Also, Columbus voters overwhelmingly approved a bond issue that would invest $200 million to expand access to housing for lower income residents. It was part of a five issue package that also means $300 million for police and fire facility improvements, new fire equipment, and new police substations and fire stations.

Another $200 million will be spent on parks and recreation, $250 million on infrastructure, and $550 million on public utilities.

The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio called the affordable housing bond passage important and showed voters care about the issue, Communications Director Marcus Roth said in a news release.

The group has a plan to invest $308 million of American Rescue Plan funds before the General Assembly, and Roth said he hopes lawmakers will pass the proposal during its lame duck session, which begins Monday.

“Our ARPA plan would also help address increasing unsheltered homelessness, which has been causing consternation among businesses and residents in several communities. Some local officials are considering a criminalization approach, despite mounds of evidence that housing – not police – is the solution to homelessness,” the release said.

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.