In a letter to the editor, New Jersey Drug Policy Alliance Policy Manger Alexandra Staropoli says that there are no loopholes in state bail reform – despite Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s claim to the contrary.
The only loophole we should be talking about is the one that was closed by New Jersey’s historic bail reform legislation.
Mayor Fulop’s argument against the reform directly contradicts the evidence-based elements of New Jersey’s new law that have made our state a national leader on this issue.
Prior to January 1, decisions about pretrial release in New Jersey were based on an individual’s access to resources rather than their potential risk to public safety.
Everyone was given a money bail, and those individuals who could afford to pay, regardless of their risk to public safety, were able to immediately pay for their freedom.
This loophole was closed on January 1. In the new system, judges can detain those individuals they believe pose too great of a risk to public safety—this was not possible in our old system.
Under bail reform, judges make decisions about pretrial release based on risk. Every defendant is given a risk assessment, and judges must consider the results of the assessment when making the decision to release or detain an individual.
Bail reform was passed with overwhelming support in New Jersey because of its ability to improve public safety and create a fairer criminal justice system. Critics of reform must be transparent about the dangerous and unfair system we had prior to January 1.
Policy Manager, New Jersey
Drug Policy Alliance