NJ Officials Considering Modifications To Bail System Change

Apr 25, 2017

Senator Sandra Cunningham

New Jersey officials are considering some tweaks to the bail changes that have been in effect in January.

Senator Sandra Cunningham is working on legislation that would take a history of gun violence into consideration when determining if a defendant should be released while awaiting trial. 

"We've had a lot of people in Jersey City who have been hurt because that's happened with gang members and people who have just gotten out immediately and either did the same crime again or did something that was really hurtful at that point."

State Attorney General Chris Porrino is seeking to have the court system automatically recommend detention for defendants arrested on charges of illegal gun possession, eluding police, or those charged while on pre-trail release, probation, or parole.

Senator Brian Stack says a habitual offender can be a one-person crime wave.

"When somebody picks up the phone and calls the police and they see that person out there who's breaking into a car at nighttime or committing a burglary, and they're a repeat offender and they're back out immediately, you lose the trust of the community and say you know what why am I going to get involved and call the police again."

Senator Jennifer Beck says some advocates are concerned the scoring system to determine whether a defendant is held or released while awaiting trial is not considering domestic violence and sexual assault suspects appropriately.

“Whatever the calculation is that the judges are doing, the numbers aren’t adding up to a high enough score that they are held, and this person may go back out and is even angrier now and is recommitting.”

Civil liberties advocates say tinkering with the system could undermine the changes enacted to keep violent offenders in jail until trial while allowing low-level defendants to be released.