In response to “Local Law Enforcement Weight In on New Jersey’s New Bail Reform Laws”:
The article rightly states that the new law “will help nonviolent, poor people stuck in jail because they cannot afford bail while also stopping dangerous people who can pay their way out.”
A 2013 report found that 40% of individuals in New Jersey jails were there solely because they could not afford to pay bail – 10% of individuals couldn’t afford a bail of $2,500 or less. Meanwhile, defendants who had financial resources, regardless of their risk to public safety, were able to pay for their freedom.
New Jersey’s new law will improve public safety and fairness by creating a system in which pretrial release decisions are based on risk rather than resources.
The new system will also provide significant cost-savings from reduced jail populations. In New Jersey, it costs approximately $100 a day to hold an individual in jail. Jailing someone who cannot pay, for instance, $500 bail, can cost taxpayers more than $30,000 per year—just while that person awaits trial. It only costs $7 a day to supervise someone in the community.
And those are just the costs we can quantify. It doesn’t include the significant consequences individuals face while incarcerated, including lost jobs and housing and strained family and community relationships.
Bail reform is not only a commitment to an improved pretrial process, it’s a system overhaul that will have broad impacts on families and communities statewide.
Policy Manager, New Jersey
Drug Policy Alliance