Ocean County Press Release
FREEHOLDERS JOIN WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT LEADERS IN CONDEMNING STATE'S "BAIL REFORM"
THE STATE'S so-called bail reform law is costing taxpayers millions of dollars while threatening to release potentially dangerous criminals back into the community, two Ocean County Freeholders said.
Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari and Deputy Director Gerry P. Little today commended the Ocean County Association of Chiefs of Police for its recent opposition to the bail reform laws.
"These law enforcement professionals and leaders from all of our municipalities agree that this version of bail reform is not working," Vicari said. "We're not against reviewing and improving our bail regulations, but we are against this law."
The Chief's Association on February 10 unanimously approved a resolution calling for the appeal of the reform legislation, calling it "dangerous, onerous and fiscally disastrous."
Little went one step further, calling the state-mandated law, "nothing but a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card."
Little argued that the original public question placed before voters in 2014 was not only inaccurate, but also "disingenuous."
"In no way did the question ask whether voters wanted the courts to release sex offenders, drug dealers, burglars and other potentially violent criminals back on the streets without bail," Little said. "Judges already had the power to release or hold suspects with or without bail."
The actual question on the November 2014 ballot read:
"Do you approve amending the Constitution to allow a court to order pretrial detention of a person in a criminal case? This would change the current constitutional right to bail. The change to the Constitution would mean that a court could order that a person remain in jail prior to a trial even without a chance for the person to post bail, in some situations."
Vicari said the facts concerning the number of prisoners released state-wide before trial confirm the Freeholders' concerns.
According to a statement issued by the New Jersey State PBA on February 7th, bail was set for only 3 out of 3,382 suspects that came before judges in January.
"We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our police officers in opposition to these dangerous changes," Vicari said.
Vicari and Little also praised the New Jersey Association of Counties for filing a suit before the state Council on Mandates arguing that the legislation falls under the "State Mandate, State Pay" statutes and is therefore unconstitutional unless fully funded by Trenton.
Vicari said the county estimates that complying with the regulations will cost taxpayers about $2.4 million in new staff, equipment and capital expenses.
"NJAC is absolutely correct – the state mandated these costs and under the state Constitution they should pay to implement and maintain this program," Vicari said.
However, the Freeholder said a better proposal would be to scrap the law and start fresh.
"It's time to throw it out and come up with a better plan that both protects our residents and controls costs," Vicari said.