On January 1, 2017, there will be a new bail system that will go into effect in New Jersey. While many people have applauded the new system and point to counties where the system was implemented as a test run as a sign of future success, other counties are not as excited for the proposed changes. In fact, a group of counties have come together to take legal action against, New Jersey’s sweeping bail reform, hoping to keep the program from going into effect.
The New Jersey Association of Counties plans to file a complaint with a state board arguing that the current bail reform plan is currently inadequately funded. The New Jersey Association of Counties was expected to file their complaint with the State board, The Council on Local Mandates, by mid-October. The New Jersey Association of Counties, The State board has the power to strike down a law if it lacks the proper funding.
If you or someone you love were arrested and think you need an Atlantic City criminal defense lawyer, call The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today.
Problems with the Proposed Bail Reform
Come January 1st, counties all across the state will be expected to implement reforms to the current bail systems in place. The Bail Reform Act was signed into law in August 2014 and later approved by the voters as an amendment to the state constitution. The Bail Reform Act will replace the current monetary bail system with a risk-based approach, requiring courts to assess the likelihood that a defendant will flee, commit new criminal activity, or obstruct justice by intimidating victims and other witnesses. However, some counties are already concerned that they will not be able to implement the bail reform policies. Several counties have concerns over how they will afford to implement these changes including hiring new staff, implementing video conferencing technology, and how they will afford to keep the courthouse open over the weekends.
John Donnadio, the executive director of the association, said that county freeholder boards will have to reach into their own budgets in order to comply with the new regulations, and Donnadio estimates that it will cost each county anywhere from $1 million to $2 million per year to create and continue to fund the bail reform programs. Critics point out that they are not able to implement systems to potentially fund this program because of policies like the 2 percent property tax cap.
While the State has identified some funding for bail reform, critics claim that it is not enough and that the counties cannot bear the burden of implementing this system. There have been some apparent attempts to help counties pay for this reform system. Notably New Jersey, State Senator Steve Oroho introduced a bill to give $21 million to the counties for bail reform, and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly sponsored legislation to hike court fees and dedicate those funds to the county costs. However, as it currently stands, it appears that neither of these proposals have gained much traction in the New Jersey legislative houses.
However, as with any argument, there is another side. There have been several notable supporters of the bail reform act who argue that there is proper funding for the program and that in the overall the bail reform act will result in substantial savings for the counties. Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey state director for Drug Policy Alliance, argued against this idea that bail reform is inadequately funded, Ms. Scotti pointed to the effect of the new bail reform system in that if those who could not formerly afford bail are no longer being held in prison the counties will not be housing, feeding, or providing medical care to those who are accused of crimes while they wait for trial. This would provide immediate savings for the counties. As support, she cited a study conducted by the Drug Policy Alliance, that found that about 12 percent of the state’s county jail population was custody because they were unable to post a bail of $2,500 or less.
Contact an Atlantic City Criminal Defense Lawyer If Your Loved One Was Arrested in NJ
Bail is an important factor in any criminal case because it prevents or allows a criminal defendant to make their way out of jail before a trial. If you or one of your family members was arrested and are awaiting a hearing for bail call the New Jersey defense attorneys of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to set up a free legal consultation today.