Council On Local Mandates Considers Bail Reform Case

Feb 14, 2017

NJ Association of Counties executive director John Donnadio
Credit Phil Gregory

The Council on Local Mandates hears oral arguments tomorrow on a motion by the state of New Jersey to dismiss a challenge of the bail reform law that took effect in January.

The New Jersey Association of Counties claims the law is an unconstitutional unfunded state mandate because counties have had to spend more than $35 million on personnel and improvements to implement it.

In December the council denied the counties' request for a preliminary injunction to stop the law from taking effect.

The Counties Association executive director John Donnadio is hoping they'll prevail this time.

"I still am optimistic that we'll be successful on the merits in that those costs were not initially contemplated by the legislature as the legislation was making its way onto the governor's desk and before the voters back in 2014."

Donnadio says counties know that nullifying the bail reform law would create a crisis and their goal has been to get some type of compensation for implementing it.

"We've asked for a modest increase in court fees and dedicate those fees back to the counties. We've asked the Attorney General to impose a hiring freeze on county prosecutors. We've asked to use special class two law enforcement officers to provide security at court facilities. We've asked to use video conferencing on weekends and on holidays."

The law largely eliminates bail for minor offenses as a way of reducing prison populations.