Trenton – A Senate committee today approved a bill sponsored by Senator Joe Cryan and Senator Shirley Turner that would establish a legal procedure to allow for the pre-trial detention of those charged with serious gun crimes so dangerous suspects are kept in custody.
The bill, S-513, approved by the Senate Law and Public Safety with a vote of 4-0, is a response to the increase in gun crimes, especially in urban communities.
“This will help counter the surge in gun violence by keeping the most dangerous offenders behind bars,” said Senator Cryan. “A large majority of gun crimes are committed by a relatively small number of criminals. This will focus pre-trial detention on those who pose a real threat to public safety while ensuring a fair trial.”
The number of shooting victims in New Jersey jumped by 41 percent from 2019 to 2021.
“The mayors of some of the largest cities in New Jersey are asking for this focused enforcement as a response to the surge in shootings that is causing so much bloodshed and death in their communities,” said Senator Turner. “This is a safe way of keeping the most violent offenders off the streets without compromising New Jersey’s bail reforms.”
The legislation, as amended by the committee, would require the Pretrial Services Program – the judicial office that conducts risk assessments for defendants – to issue a recommendation of pretrial detention for individuals charged with violations of the “Graves Act,” which sets mandatory imprisonment terms for most gun crimes. The required recommendation would not apply to certain less-severe gun offenses.
Under the bill, when a prosecutor files a motion for pretrial detention, the “no release” recommendation would serve as prima facie evidence to overcome the presumption of pretrial release that exists in current law. Defendants could challenge the recommendation but it would be in a judge’s discretion whether to detain a defendant.