If you’ve never been in trouble, you may not understand how bail works in the first place. The good news is that things have improved for many accused of crimes. A year ago, New Jersey took on a massive initiative. So, how is bail reform working? Will the changes impact you or a loved one?
For some background, you may want to take a look at this article we wrote last year. This was soon after New Jersey made sweeping reforms to their bail system. As you most likely know, bail is the system in which courts require defendants to make monetary deposits to ensure they would appear in court for their criminal case. It’s something that goes on in every jurisdiction in America.
All things considered, the concept of any system of this type poses significant issues for without the means to make even minor bail amounts. As a result, a large number of low-income defendants find themselves incarcerated due to their inability to pay. Truth be told, it often appears that little thought is given to their criminal history or the likelihood they won’t return to court.
To combat this issue, New Jersey took steps in 2017 to radically change its bail system. While some arrests will still require monetary bail, courts will now focus more on the likelihood a defendant will flee or appear at their trial when it weighs whether to release a defendant without bail. The new law also puts into place some non-monetary conditions that can be met by a defendant to stay out of jail. But is the new system working?
New Report Suggests Bail Reform is Effective but Underfunded
According to more than one news article, New Jersey’s bail reform appears to have found some success. In fact, Judge Glenn Grant, the acting administrative director of the court system presented his findings after the one year anniversary of the changes. According to Judge Grant’s report, the move affected a number of defendants charged with minor crimes.
In particular, the focus was on defendants incarcerated until the date of their trial because of their inability to afford bail. Numbers have dropped 20 percent since the changes went into place a year ago. According to the acting director, the reform has created “a more comprehensive, reasonable, and most importantly, a fairer system of pretrial release.”
But like everything else related to the government, this program costs money. And according to the report, it will be out of funding soon. The court places the blame on the budget shortfall; the program is funded solely through collected court fees. In short, it is not paid out of the state budget. Experts expect the program could become insolvent by 2019, and additional funding will remain a hotly debated political issue within the state legislature.
Have Questions about how Bail Reform Works?
New Jersey’s bail reform initiative is providing an opportunity for those charged with crimes but who are not a severe threat to skip bail or flee a chance stay out of jail until their trial date. For many, that could be the difference between keeping and losing a job.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, an attorney with experience in criminal defense law can counsel you on how to improve your chances of release without unaffordable bail. Contact the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo for a free consultation.