Over the years New Jersey has been struggling with a big problem, namely the growing numbers of jail cells. Or more specifically, people who are in prison and still waiting for a court date. These individuals were denied bail, which is why they are still in prison and not at home.
According to a 2013 study, the average defendant waits about 300 days before getting his or her day in court. Whether they are innocent or not, they can lose more than a year of their lives, only because they couldn’t arrange a bail bondsman for bail.
This brings up the New Jersey Bail Reform Act that has been implemented recently. With the aim of getting these people a speedy trial and helping them get out on bail, the act is seen as a step in the right direction. Even though there are still some loose ends to tie up, it seems like the next logical step.
The act includes several changes. For example, if a person is arrested they have the right to a bail hearing within 48 hours. However, bail for minor crimes has been eliminated, so if there’s a bail hearing, then it’s based on a serious offense.
Another significant change is that bail hearings will take place on holidays and weekends. Of course, this part of the act hasn’t been received so positively, but it’s now part of the legislation nonetheless.
The New Jersey law system will now incorporate a risk assessment tool, which is going to determine whether an individual should be given bail, or if they are a flight risk. The verdict will also involve the question of bail pricing, and whether the person can be trusted to return willingly.
If the judge agrees with the assessment and grants bail, the only way a prosecutor can stop it is by arguing the case with enough evidence and reason.