Assembly passes constitutional amendment on bail reform

TRENTON – The Assembly moments ago passed the constitutional amendment on bail reform sought by Gov. Chris Christie.

The vote on SCR-946 was 53-7-9.

The senate last week unanimously passed the legislation.

Sponsored in the Assembly by Assembly Democrats John Burzichelli, Raj Mukherji and Annette Quijano, SCR-946 would reform bail and pretrial release determinations.

 

The bill would authorize the court, upon motion by a prosecutor, to order pretrial detention of an eligible defendant when it finds clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions can reasonably assure the effectuation of the above-stated goals, according to the Assembly Majority Office.

Under the bill, as amended, monetary bail could be set for an eligible defendant only after the defendant’s commitment to jail and when it is determined that no other conditions of release will reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance in court when required.

 “We all know we needed to reform the criminal justice process in New Jersey to ensure bail is administered in a common sense way and that all those charged with a crime receive their right to a speedy trial,” said Burzichelli. “As we’ve seen, this is a complicated system to unwind and fix. But, working together, I think we’ve achieved the right balance between reforming our system and creating a safer and more just New Jersey.”

 “Taxpayer dollars are presently being wasted to imprison alleged offenders for months on tiny bail amounts while they await resolutions of lower level offenses, simply because they can’t afford it,” said Mukherji.  “In one fell swoop, these reforms will ensure public safety is protected and the most dangerous threats to society can’t use their illicit gains to get back on our streets while fortifying the constitutional rights afforded to everyone in this state, expanding the options available to our judges for pretrial release, and providing much-needed funding to expand legal aid for low-income New Jerseyans.”

Assembly passes constitutional amendment on bail reform