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Stack, Gopal Legislation Establishing the “Pretrial Partnership for Community Support and Services Pilot Program” Advances

Trenton – To enhance New Jersey’s pretrial release system, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced legislation sponsored by committee Chair Senator Brian Stack and Senator Vin Gopal that establishes the “Pretrial Partnership For Community Support and Services Pilot Program” for certain defendants in Monmouth, Union, Camden, and Cumberland Counties.

Under the bill, S-301, as a condition of release established by a court, an eligible defendant would receive a biophysical assessment or other appropriate assessment and responsive treatment and services provided by an approved pretrial community support provider.

“New Jersey’s Criminal Justice Reform Act has successfully reduced the number of defendants detained pretrial, but challenges remain,” said Senator Stack (D-Hudson). “When released, defendants often lack support services to address obstacles such as housing insecurity, unemployment, or substance abuse disorders. Providing adequate services during the pretrial release period will improve defendants’ pretrial success and potentially reduce their sentence.”

The comprehensive assessment of an eligible defendant would include a screening for substance use disorders along with a medical, mental health, and behavioral health assessment. The defendant’s employment readiness and capacity for independence will also be evaluated.

Following the assessment of an eligible defendant, pretrial community support providers would be required to develop and implement an individualized pretrial services case plan to address the defendant’s needs.

A judge would give successful participation by the defendant in the pretrial pilot program consideration as a factor to reduce a sentence or dismiss a prosecution.

“Greater oversight of defendants by community support service providers in the pretrial period will reduce court caseloads and improve public safety,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “Creating a plan for defendants to obtain adequate employment or maintain sobriety during the pretrial period will also help more individuals comply with the conditions of their release successfully.”

The bill advanced out of committee in a unanimous 11-0 vote.