bail system

New Jersey: Voters Reform Broken Bail System

BailReform

Advocates Hail Historic Reform and Look Forward to Work on Implementing New Law

New Jersey voters on Tuesday approved Public Question No. 1 to reform New Jersey’s bail system. The narrowly-worded question allows judges to deny bail to dangerous individuals, but it ushers in broader bail reform because it is linked to comprehensive legislation, already signed by the governor, that overhauls the state’s broken bail system.

The legislation implements wide-ranging reforms including non-monetary release options for low-risk individuals; a system under which pretrial release decisions are based on risk rather than resources; the use of risk assessments for suspects enabling courts to make individualized determinations of what conditions of release are appropriate; establishment of a pretrial services unit within the court system that will provide appropriate levels of monitoring and counseling for those awaiting trial.

The legislation also protects the rights of those denied bail by requiring prosecutors to prove the case for pretrial detention by clear and convincing evidence and mandating clear timelines for speedy trial.

Advocates and faith leaders across the state waged a hard-fought two-year campaign to pass the legislation and win approval of Public Question No. 1 by voters. They hailed the victory as a historic change to New Jersey’s criminal justice system.

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