The Joint Committee on Criminal Justice Reform found those facing charges from multiple arrests were far more likely to face rearrest pretrial. (Photo by New Jersey Monitor)
A court-formed committee with wide-ranging membership has recommended legislative changes that would require court officials to revoke pretrial release for certain repeat offenders.
The panel’s 31 recommendations, detailed in a report issued this week by the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice Reform, come as legislators explore various changes to the pretrial release system New Jersey adopted after ending cash bail in 2017.
The 26-member committee said the Legislature should enact new laws that would create a presumption of detention for defendants already facing charges from two prior arrests and are arrested for a third time.
The committee — whose membership includes the state attorney general, law enforcement organizations, and the ACLU, among other governmental and civil rights groups — also recommended adding repeat car theft to the list of offenses presumed to see a defendant jailed while awaiting trial.
The report hails New Jersey’s bail reform as a success, noting it had drastically reduced the number of individuals jailed while awaiting trial for low-level offenses while allowing judges to keep those accused of more serious crimes detained.
Rearrest rates for serious offenses have hovered below 1% for each year since 2018, the report says, and more than 80% of those released pretrial finished their pretrial period without rearrest.
But more than half of individuals who had charges pending from two prior arrests reoffended, according to the report.
The committee separately recommended judiciary staff drive those released before trial to health, mental health, and community services and to keep such services available for those whose pretrial release has been revoked.
They also recommended increased funding for pretrial services staff in the judiciary — at least until the pretrial release population returns to pre-pandemic levels — and additional funding to the Department of Human Services for staff to aid those released pretrial with services.
This story was first published by the New Jersey Monitor, a sibling site of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.
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