TOMS RIVER-With the apparent breakdown of bail reform in New Jersey in the first 30 days of its existence, New Jersey’s Republican candidates have kept their distance from the topic.
After a month filled with news releases published by many of the state’s municipal police departments cataloging several dozen cases of violent offenders being released back into the community without bail, one thing is clear, bail reform in New Jersey is not working as promised.
The subject was highlighted after a two-time child sexual predator was released back into the small southern Ocean County community of Little Egg Harbor to the dismay of the local police chief and Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato.
Only one candidate for Governor in the Republican primary responded to our requests for comment on New Jersey’s bail reform woes, Joseph Rullo who lives in Little Egg Harbor, ground zero for bail reform’s breakdown.
Rullo told us bail reform has many problems as it is now. Intended originally to allow low income offenders out of jail for minor offenses, it has become a golden ticket to get out of jail for some of New Jersey’s hardened criminals.
Rullo said New Jersey should not be releasing violent offenders back into the community without supervision. He added that the state raised taxes to pay for the $500 million cost of the reform.
“Bail reform is tying up police with needless paper work,” Rullo said. “Rather than being on patrol, but that paper work also adds to overtime for police, with added expense to the municipalities.”
Rullo said the biggest issue with bail reform from his standpoint, beyond the inherent public safety concerns is that now the public will have to pay for those who fail to return to court to be relocated and relocated. Prior to bail reform, the job of finding those who skipped bail was left up to private bail bondsmen at no cost to the public.
Now, according to Rullo, the municipalities will bear the cost of finding and returning those who skipped their court hearing, putting police departments in the unnecessary position, risking resources and officers in an effort to bring those people back to justice for a second time…sometimes third and fourth times.
As of this writing, neither the campaign for Kim Guadagno nor Jack Ciattarelli have responded to several requests for comment on this topic.
After an initial call by Peter McAleer, an appointed public information officer representing the New Jersey Courts, last week contesting our coverage of bail reform, McAleer has yet to address the topic since with us. A request for comment from Governor Chris Christie on the subject also was not answered.