Lawmakers Take Steps To Keep Dangerous Defendants From Obtaining Bail

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TRENTON — The Assembly Judiciary Committee approved Monday a measure sponsored by Assembly Republicans Donna Simon and Dave Rible that is aimed at keeping dangerous defendants in jail while they await trial.

Simon and Rible’s resolution, ACR-153, is legislation that would allow voters to amend New Jersey’s Constitution, giving courts the authority to deny pretrial release of a defendant if it found that no amount of bail or pretrial release conditions would assure the defendant’s appearance for trial.

“This bill is more than criminal justice policy,” Simon told the Judiciary Committee. “It’s about keeping our neighborhoods, children and senior citizens safe from an unnecessary risk of violence. Our communities, whether city or suburb, deserve the same protections provided by nearly every other state.”

Simon and Rible pointed out that according to a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in six offenders released on bail commit another crime before their trial.

“The justice system affords the accused certain rights, including the right to trial in order to determine their guilt or innocence,” said Rible, R-Monmouth and Ocean, who is the Republican Conference Leader and a retired Wall Township detective. “Equally as important, our citizens and communities are entitled to be protected from individuals who have a history of violence. This resolution is the beginning of a process that will let the public decide whether there are situations where judges should be able to deny bail to those defendants who pose a threat to public safety.”

Simon and Rible’s legislation mirrors federal law.

“The statistics from the Bureau of Justice are unnerving,” stated Simon. “They essentially play Russian Roulette with the safety of children playing in the park or senior citizens walking to the store. No one feels secure when there is a one in six chance that their safety may be compromised. When voters approve this amendment, New Jersey will be safer.”

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