Clark Chief of Police Pedro Matos is right to want us to think about the public safety impact of the statewide bail reform that went into effect on January 1st – but his characterization of the reform is off base.

Under the old, unsafe money bail system, dangerous people bought their way out of jail and committed serious violent crimes while out on bail.  Bail reform corrected that loophole by establishing a system where pretrial release decisions are based on risk to public safety rather than the balance of someone’s bank account, and by giving judges the right to order preventive detention for dangerous defendants for the first time.

Contrary to what Chief Matos implied, the reform has not opened the jail doors to allow nearly all defendants to return to the community before their trial. In fact, statistics released by the state show that in Union County, judges are granting prosecutors motions to hold defendants in jail before trial in 73% of the cases when they requested detention.

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To put it simply, bail reform makes New Jersey safer, and has restored fairness to the justice system.

Alexandra Staropoli

Policy Manager, New Jersey

Drug Policy Alliance