All too often bail relates to money. However there are actually three types of release that can be used to ensure the defendant will appear in court.
- Personal Bond (a.k.a. personal recognizance)—This is a written promise to appear for future court dates.
- Secured Bond—The accused or another person pays money bond upfront as security for one’s release. There are four types of secured bond:
- Full Cash Bond—The accused is required to pay the full amount of the bond prior to being released.
- 10% Bond—10% of the whole money bond amount is due to be released.
- Surety Bond—Typically, where a bail bond agent posts bond in return for a 10% nonrefundable fee.
- Property Bond—The accused pledges a title to real property (e.g. house) to secure release.
Every year, Ohio jails thousands of people before their day in court, all because they can’t pay cash bail and buy their freedom. Ohio’s reliance on cash bail has created a two-tiered system of justice where wealthier people accused of a crime go free while poorer people accused of the same crime stay behind bars. Both people are legally innocent because they haven’t been proven guilty, yet one is allowed to go home while the other remains behind bars.
The Opportunity—Why We Must Focus on Pretrial
The pretrial system is the stage between your arrest and when your case concludes. This means that the person is legally considered innocent throughout this time period. Pretrial outcomes are worse for people of color, people with disabilities, women, and members of the LGBTQ community. Visit impact page for more information.
- Jails are a primary driver of mass incarceration. Two out of three people in Ohio jails are there pretrial, meaning they are legally innocent. They have simply been suspected of a crime, not proven guilty. From 1970–2015, the rate of Ohioans held in jails pretrial has tripled (Vera Incarceration Trends).
- Being held pretrial has devastating effects on one’s life and family.
- After just 48 hours spent in jail, people often lose their house, jobs, and children.
- People held in jail while awaiting resolution of their case have worse outcomes every step of the way. It’s incredibly difficult to meet with your attorney and mount a defense while behind bars. This leads to more guilty pleas—even for those who are innocent. If their case goes to trial, they are more likely to lose their case. For those that end up being found guilty, they often receive a longer sentence.
- This unfair system traps whole families. Every $200 or $500 paid to a bail bond agent to secure a loved one’s release is money that could be better spent feeding a child, securing safe housing, or paying for school.
To learn more about all our work, please visit the ACLU of Ohio’s homepage.