As the New Jersey legislative session comes to a close, several members of the legislature are in the process of gathering last-minute support for two significant bail reform measures.
Although the two legislative proposals would fundamentally alter the state’s current bail system, legislators have less than a week to secure the necessary votes within the state legislature. Specifically, lawmakers must pass a resolution that would call for an amendment to the NJ State Constitution. At that point, the ultimate decision would be left up to voters in the November election.
SCR128, the proposed amendment, has already received support from Governor Chris Christie. If ultimately approved by NJ voters, the amendment would grant judges the power to deny bail to defendants who meet certain criteria: the defendant poses a threat to public safety; the defendant is a flight risk; the defendant is likely to obstruct justice when released from custody.
While the legislature debates the merits of the proposal, members of the State’s Democratic Party are looking to pass legislation of their own: bill S946. This proposed bill would grant defendants lacking monetary resources the ability to secure bail by meeting non-monetary conditions such as avoiding contact with the alleged victim and potential witnesses, maintaining employment while on bail, enrolling in an educational program, and entering a drug or alcohol rehabilitation treatment center.
The State Senate plans to vote on the two proposed measures in a session on July 31. If the changes to the bail system are approved, the state’s bail system would be radically changed. Anyone facing a serious criminal charge – such as aggravated assault or heroin possession – would likely be affected.
To learn more, access the NJ.com article entitled “With Deadline Approaching, Assembly Leaders Scramble for Votes to Get Bail Changes on the Ballot.”