New Jersey Overhauls Its Bail System
Effective January 1, 2017, New Jersey began implementing its newly revised bail system (P.L. 2014, Ch. 31 known as the “Bail Reform Law”). As judges do under the Federal Bail Reform Act, New Jersey judges will now focus on whether an accused presents a significant flight risk, is threat to public safety, or both when deciding whether to detain the accused while awaiting trial.
A study by the Drug Policy Alliance in New Jersey, released in 2013, found that 39 percent of inmates were eligible to be released on bail, but that many could not meet amounts as low as $2,500.
The new system, of course, is not without controversy. While striving to achieve fairness and alleviate the overloaded system, many (particularly those in the bail bond business) rally against it stating that dangerous offenders are released out on the streets. But “judicial officials reject the idea that dangerous criminals are flooding communities.”
- Lisa W. Foderaro, New Jersey Alters Its Bail System and Upends Legal Landscape, New York Times (Feb. 6, 2017).
- Stuart Rabner, Chief Justice: Bail Reform Puts N.J. at the Forefront of Fairness, New Jersey Opinion (Jan. 9, 2017).
- Attorney General Issues Directive to Guide Prosecutors and Police in Implementing Historic Bail Reform that Will Keep Dangerous Criminals in Jail and Eliminate Unfair Monetary-Based Bail System, Office of the Attorney General (Oct. 13, 2016).
- Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive No. 2016-6 (Oct. 11, 2016).
- Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School, Moving Beyond Money: A Primer on Bail Reform (Oct. 2016).