Summit County, Ohio: Summit County Common Pleas Court Administrative Judge Amy Corrigall Jones is pleased to announce that Kerri Defibaugh, Director of Offender Services of the Summit County Adult Probation Department, will serve on the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Pretrial Justice Reform Summit Planning Committee. Chief Justice Maureen O’Conner invited Defibaugh to join the planning committee to ensure the event’s success. The Pretrial Justice Reform Summit will be held in Spring 2019.
“We are proud of the success of our Pretrial Services Program, largely due to the work of Director Defibaugh and her staff,” said Judge Corrigall Jones.
“The invitation by the Chief Justice to participate on this planning committee is evidence of the respect Kerri holds statewide as a leader in pretrial services,” concluded Judge Jones.
The event will bring together teams from common pleas general division, municipal and county courts from across the state to identify priorities and challenges related to implementing pretrial reforms. In recent years, the bail reform movement has gained traction, highlighting how bail unjustly punishes people without the means to pay their bail, often putting people in a position to choose between entering a guilty plea or insisting their innocence and remaining in jail. Pretrial services is a key component of the movement as more and more jurisdictions assess a defendant’s potential risk to reoffend, commit violent crime and fail to appear during pretrial instead of basing the decision to release on financial conditions, i.e., their means to post bail.
A system reliant on bail can create financial and other hardships for pretrial defendants who are unable to post bail. They can miss work or even lose their jobs, be separated from their families and place financial and other hardships on their families as a result. Pretrial defendants, even those who end up being found not guilty or have cases dismissed, may find themselves in a desperate situation, leading to a greater likelihood to reoffend. Low-risk defendant’s remaining in jail also strains resources. For example, someone remaining in jail solely because they can’t pay a $200 bond will cost tax payers several hundred or even thousands of dollars to house them in jail for several days or weeks.
“I am beyond honored to be a part of the planning committee,” Defibaugh said.
“I plan to offer my experience and knowledge with the effective pretrial risk assessment that Summit County has been using and collaborate with my colleagues to achieve pretrial reform,” Defibaugh explained.
The event’s participants will target various issues regarding pretrial services and bail. Topics will range from supervision of pretrial defendants based on their assessed risk level, abolishing fixed money bail schedules, data collection and adoption of new legislation and/or court rules to implement effective pretrial practices. The goal of the event is to collaborate and establish an action plan that promotes and incorporates overall evidence-based pretrial practices.