Just a month into New Jersey’s Criminal Justice Reform (which went into effect on January 1, 2017), and the new program is already meeting its goals, according to Judge Glenn A. Grant, acting administrative director of the courts. And the court system has the data to back up that assertion.
The bail-reform program has a number of objectives. These include: 1) preventing people accused of minor offenses from languishing in jail — sometimes for months — because they can’t make bail, even when it is set very low; 2) preventing dangerous criminals who can afford to pay bail from buying their way to freedom, where they can intimidate witnesses and commit violent crimes.
According to court records, as of January 28, the state had made successful motions for detention without bail in 283 of 506 cases (56 percent). In the remaining 223 cases, the defendants were released under the supervision of a pretrial services program with conditions imposed based on their level of risk.
“The new law eliminates the discrimination against poor people inherent in a money bail system on one hand and allows for an intellectually honest determination by judges that certain individuals accused of crimes pose too great a risk to public safety to be released on the other,” said New Jersey Public Defender Joseph Krakora.
As of January 30, 2,059 defendants were under the supervision of the Judiciary’s Pretrial Services program. Of those:
40 percent were being monitored at the highest level of supervision, which ranges from weekly in-person visits to electronic monitoring and house arrest;
45.5 percent were being monitored at lower levels of supervision, ranging from monthly in-person visits to contact by phone; and
14.5 percent were released on their own recognizance.