Southeast seventh-day adventist church Cleveland, OH
Community Forum on Bail Reform
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The Honorable Judge Ronald B Adrine, Cleveland Municipal CourtOn May 2, 2017, Southeast SDA Church hosted a community forum on bail reform facilitated by Judge Ronald B. Adrine, Cleveland Municipal Court. Judge Adrine presented a candid look at the growing issue of court fines, fees, and bail, and how individuals of lesser financial means are often arbitrarily penalized and remain in jail, while individuals with greater financial resources are frequently able to post bail and gain release.

 

Individuals who are low income and come into contact with the courts can find themselves in a “revolving door‟ situation with the system once certain fees or fines are imposed. When a person is incarcerated, even for a few days, so many aspects of that person’s life can become vulnerable to loss, including maintaining custody of children or keeping a job. There are countless stories of individuals who have sat in jail over a few days, unable to pay fines or post bail, and in that short period of time their lives can change forever.

 

 

In an interview given by Judge Adrine and other Ohio judges to talk show host Tavis Smiley as part of a series called "Courting Justice" and recorded in the CNO Review (January 2017) article, "Unjust Costs," Judge Adrine stated, “If you look at it from any objective standard, you come to the conclusion that for people who are low income, low risk, that those people are absolutely being preyed upon. Once they fall into that crack, we kind of compile additional problems on top of them so that they don’t get an opportunity to ever climb back out of the hole.”

 

Judge Adrine and Pastor Jerome HurstBail is set by courts to make certain an individual appears for a future proceeding or to ensure public safety. Municipal courts frequently set inflexible bail schedules and these schedules set specific amounts based only on the level of misdemeanor or felony.

 

According to Judge Adrine, “When you set them [bail schedules] arbitrarily—where you just set up the dollar amount according to the charge as opposed to the individual and what that individual’s risk factors are—then somebody who has no money, but also poses no risk, ends up staying in jail while somebody who has a lot of money is able to get out.” As one of the most respected judges in the greater Cleveland area, Judge Adrine recognized the need for bail reform and set about to make major changes to the bail schedule.

 

Speaking to the attendees at Southeast, Judge Adrine discussed those major changes. Individuals who are now charged with a non-violent misdemeanor and have no other charges pending, can be released on their own recognizance (on their own signature). Additionally, Judge Adrine and his colleagues are moving toward developing improved risk-assessment tools that will make more appropriate judgments concerning bail for serious charges.

 

Following his address to attendees, Judge Adrine opened up the floor to questions. One of the questions asked was, “How can we, as a community, make a difference?”

 

bishop tony minorJudge Adrine reminded the audience that “we don‟t always function as a community,” but we can. He used the "Black Lives Matter" movement as an example of how individuals have taken up the fight to focus a spotlight on the issues of injustice. Stronger voices from the community can then take that message and present it in such a way that those issues can be addressed at the local, state and national levels. Drawing a parallel between "The Black Lives Matter" movement and SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a significant part of the Civil Rights Movement), Judge Adrine spoke on how individuals such as Julian Bond and Rep. John Lewis used their voices to carry the message further.

 

According to Judge Adrine there is a part all we can all play. “Judges have a bully pulpit—but we all have an obligation to speak on it and address it.”

 

—Cecily Bryant

 

Additional Reading: Cleveland.com ran a series by Peter Krouse called ‘Impact 2016: And Justice for All,’ which features the stories of individuals who have been negatively impacted by fines, fees and bail because of their inability to pay.

 

www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2016/10/justice_for_all_the_personal_s.html.


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Prayer Meeting Wednesday, Oct 25 @ 6:30 PM
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Pastor Jerome Hurst Saturday, Oct 28 @ 11:30 AM
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Sign Language Class and Choir Tuesday, Oct 31 @ 6:30 PM

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Southeast Seventh-Day
Adventist Church

16602 Tarkington Ave.
Cleveland OH 44128

Office: (216) 662-3080

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