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NJ now a leader in showing that bail reform works as expected

Editorial Board | December 1, 2019 | Press of AC |


Nearly three years ago, New Jersey replaced its system of releasing defendants based on posting cash bail with one that evaluates whether a defendant would pose a safety risk to the public if released.

At that time, some expressed fears that as a result crime would increase, many defendants would skip their court dates and the court system would be thrown into chaos. None of that has happened.

In fact, violent crimes in New Jersey have declined, from 21,914 in 2016 to 18,357 last year, according to the FBI.

A new report using state data — “Evaluation of Pretrial Justice System Reforms” — has found that those arrested while on pretrial release increased a negligible 1% after bail reform. And while there has been a slight uptick in defendants missing court appearances — up about 4 percentage points — the effect on the time it takes to resolve cases also looks negligible.

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