TRENTON-The New Jersey Courts say New Jersey bail reform represents the “forefront of fairness”, according to a statements made on January 7th to the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
“The existing bail system is not fair to poor defendants who, because they cannot post bail, are cut off from families, may lose their jobs, and may go without access to medication for a period of time,” according to Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. “In terms of the charges against them, studies have shown that they face tougher plea offers and pressure to plead guilty because of the amount of time they have already spent in jail, and they receive longer sentences as compared to similarly situated defendants who were able to make bail.”
“Bail reform and speedy trial reform collectively represent a historic shift in the way our courts administer justice,” said Glenn A. Grant acting administrative director of the courts. “We need everyone, whether you are part of the criminal division, in a finance office, part of the family division or any other part of the Judiciary, to learn about these reforms and be ready to do your part when called upon for the success of these efforts.”
On Jan. 1, 2017, New Jersey shifted from a system that relies principally on setting monetary bail as a condition of release to ac computerized risk-based system that court officials claim is more objective, “thus fairer to defendants because it is unrelated to their ability to pay monetary bail.”
The new statute also sets deadlines for the timely filing of an indictment and the disposition of criminal charges for incarcerated defendants.
That’s the marketing copy from the state. In reality, the system isn’t working as intended, handcuffing law enforcement and quickly returning first and even second time violent offenders and sex offenders back into the communities, hours after they committed their crimes.
A watchdog group has taken to Facebook to fight bail reform and their numbers are rapidly growing. The NJ Bail Reform Fail page has been documented and sharing news stories from across New Jersey, cataloging bail reform failures across the Garden State.
The criminal justice reform program has been touted by Governor Chris Christie and state senator Steve Sweeney. Two weeks ago, the governor signed legislation calling for the hiring of 20 new appointed judges to handle the new workloads of the bail reform system.