Costs of Bail Reform Hindering Jersey Shore Town Still in Recovery from Hurricane Sandy

BERKELEY-Berkeley Township New Jersey is a town that in many ways is still recovering from Superstorm Sandy nearly five years ago, but the new costs associated with the Bail Reform and Speedy Trial Act are already taking its toll on the municipal budget.

Mayor Carmen Amato said this week that bail reform in New Jersey is an unfunded state mandate and is requesting the state to pay their fair share of helping his municipality comply with the new regulations imposed on his town.

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Bail hearings under the Bail Reform Act are now required for disorderly persons and petty disorderly offenses are held in Superior Court, but the municipalities are now on the hook financially to pay for public defenders and sending those public defenders to appear in Superior Court in Toms River, instead of municipal court, pre-bail reform.

“The foregoing necessitates municipal public defenders being required to appear in Superior Court at a considerable inconvenience and expense to local municipalities,” Amato said today in a statement.

Amato has the backing of the Ocean County Mayor’s Association which drafted a resolution to be delivered to the the New Jersey legislation, Ocean County Freeholders and the New Jersey League of Municipalities.

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The resolution, supported by Mayor Amato requests legislation that would require the state to provide the public defender.  Currently,  municipal public defenders to travel to Toms River to represent defendants, under the request proposed by Amato, the state would represent those defendants, not his township.

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