Cash bail nearly completely eliminated in New Jersey
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – New Jersey has changed the way it deals with bail this year, leading to a huge decrease in the number of criminal defendants in jail awaiting trial, while angering a decimated bail bond industry.
The reforms went into effect in January, and fewer than 30 people facing criminal charges in state court have been given cash bail through August. That compares to hundreds of thousands who received bail last year, according to state court spokesman Peter McAleer.
The new practice is being celebrated by reform advocates who say cash bail unfairly keeps poor defendants in jail, but it has led to lawsuits from the bail bond companies that say it is killing their business.
Some lawmakers and law enforcement officials also say the change has led to instances in which people are quickly released because they aren’t deemed a threat then later re-arrested on new charges.
At least two lawsuits have been filed seeking to overturn the changes, including one from a group backed by reality TV star Dog the Bounty Hunter.