Opinion: Public safety should be first priority in setting bail

·3 min read
Shawn Green in an undated photo.
Shawn Green in an undated photo.

On July 18, 2020, Justin DuBose allegedly broke into Shawn Green’s home, shot him in the head and left him to die. DuBose fled to Las Vegas with a fake ID, credit cards in other people’s names and $2,000 in cash. After being arrested in Vegas, DuBose was returned to Cincinnati, where he was charged with two counts of murder and one count of aggravated robbery. The trial court set bail at $1.5 million ($750,000 for each set of charges) based on the seriousness of the charges, the danger DuBose presented to the community, and the testimony of Shawn Green’s grandmother, who told the court, "My daughter’s scared to death if he gets out."

Unfortunately, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled last week in a 4-3 decision that DuBose’s bail must be reduced by over 66% because, and I quote from the majority decision: "Public safety is not a consideration with respect to the financial conditions of bail."

In plain terms, the Ohio Supreme Court decided that an alleged murderer’s pocketbook was more important to them than the safety of Green’s family and the people of Hamilton County. Even worse, the Supreme Court’s ruling is precedent that all courts in Ohio are now bound to follow. That’s right, the Ohio Supreme Court has now forbidden Ohio trial judges from even considering public safety when setting the amount of bail.

This decision is simply a disaster for the safety and security of the people of Hamilton County.

The Supreme Court of Ohio building in downtown Columbus.
The Supreme Court of Ohio building in downtown Columbus.

Here in Cincinnati, the past two years have seen some of the highest homicide rates on record, while Columbus also experiences record violence. Criminals in our state are running roughshod over law-abiding citizens and are putting Ohioans at risk. Soft-on-crime judges and prosecutors in our cities are allowing dangerous people like DuBose to walk our streets without even considering the impact their decisions have on victims, their families and our citizens.

Law enforcement can only do so much to keep people safe. Police officers rely on the judicial system to help us enforce the law and create an environment where people can live their lives knowing that there are public servants ready to protect them. When judges engage in "catch-and-release" with violent criminals, they put our officers and the people at-large at risk.

Although the majority’s decision is incredibly disappointing, we can at least be thankful that Justices Pat DeWine, Patrick Fischer and Sharon Kennedy dissented in this case. Justice DeWine’s dissent begins appropriately: "Make no mistake: what the majority does today will make Ohio communities less safe."

He could not be more correct. Justices DeWine, Kennedy and Fischer recognized the real dangers of allowing appellate courts to play Monday-morning quarterback on decisions that have real-world consequences for victims and regular people. I’m glad that at least some of our judges have their priorities straight.

Justin DuBose, like all Americans, deserves the presumption of innocence and deserves his day in court. But until that day, the safety of our community should be the first priority in deciding his bail, not whether or not he can afford it.

Cincinnati police Sgt. Daniel Hils is president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Queen City Lodge #69..

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Opinion: Public safety should be first priority in setting bail

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting