Local court officials, defense lawyers, and prosecutors gathered yesterday for a seminar on New Jersey’s bail reform program, which takes effect January 1.
The goal of reform is to reduce the number of people accused of minor offenses and held on low bail they are unable to pay, often for months. Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said they are 12 percent of the jail population.
Under the new system, those arrested will appear at a hearing within 48 hours where a six-point assessment will determine if they should be released.
The New Jersey Association of Counties predicted the law will be expensive to implement, because hearings can be held on weekends and can require more assistant prosecutors and sheriff’s deputies, and others suggested people accused of domestic violence could endanger victims if they are released. But supporters say under the current system many people who are unlikely to be a danger to the public or to dodge court appearances spend time in jail without ever being convicted.
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