What is Issue 1? How this change to bail could work if passed on Election Day

Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 7:09 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - As Ohio voters head to the polls on November 8th, they will be faced with the chance to change how bail is done in the state for the foreseeable future.

Issue 1 will be on every Ohio ballot and, if passed, would allow for individual judges to establish bail based on “public safety.”

Under current law, bail is at a set rate depending on the crime, as the state constitution protects against excessive bail fines.

Ohio House Representative D. J. Swearingen (R- Huron) is a sponsor of the bill and believes this would be much more efficient than the current bail laws.

The current bail laws changed in 2021 when DuBose v. McGuffey, an Ohio Supreme Court Case, ruled that bail set by judges could be too high and create an impossible situation for certain individuals awaiting trial.

According to Rep. Swearingen, this change in bail procedures set the state up for failure and left criminals with a more lenient form of bail.

“In Ohio we are ok with judges being able to set bail amounts. In the past they’ve been able to do that,” Rep. Swearingen said, “It’s really allowing judges to operate how they have operate previously.”

Those against Issue 1, like the ACLU, believe this is a step in the wrong direction.

“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,” Patrick Higgins, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of Ohio, said in a release.

Issue 1 will be on the ballot on Nov. 8, and if passed will become a law in the state.