New Jersey – Governor Christie Defends Failing Bail Reform

New Jersey – Gov Christie Defends Failing Bail Reform!

New Jersey – Feb 13, 2017

During 101.5’s “Ask the Governor”, Governor Chris Christie was asked about the progress of bail reform. The comment to the governor…

“Bail Reform is not working, despite what the judiciary says. The ballot question was vague and misleading and now violent offenders are being released on nothing more than a promise”

The Governor responded, as he so often does, with arrogance as he rambled off insults and inaccuracies, even taking aim at our NJ Facebook Page – “NJ Bail Reform – Why New Jersey is LESS SAFE at the Taxpayers Expense”

“That’s ridiculous. They’re not being released by nothing more than a promise. They’re (offenders) given bracelets.”

False. Does the Governor know something we don’t? Very few actually get ankle monitors. In fact, 3,382 defendants were released in January under pretrial supervision or summons. 25% were level 3 monitoring which does not require an ankle monitor. We have spoken to several counties who claim they have very few monitors in use and even fewer available. Unless New Jersey has an ankle monitor factory hidden away somewhere, this is simply false. By the way Gov, who is paying for the monitors? Oh that’s right…the taxpayer again. There have already been cases of monitors being cut off. Surprised? We’re not. It’s harder to open a bag of Doritos than to cut one of those useless monitors off.

“They have officers who they have to report in to”

Officers? Don’t you mean pretrial services personnel? Since when is a civilian pretrial service worker an officer? All due respect to those individuals who landed one of these pretrial service jobs but they have about as much experience monitoring space travel as they do defendants. Also, are they held accountable for these defendants? NO. Other than record telephone check-ins, we’re not sure what they do exactly. We can tell you what they can’t do…just about anything that would require actual monitoring (see our previous post on pretrial services).

”these are nonviolent people in the main who are not causing problems when they get out”

Where do we even begin. Rape, aggravated assault, burglary, forced entry, aggravated assault on a police officer, drug distribution, child pornography, child sexual assault…are these nonviolent to you? Of course not, and they have all been released on a “pinky promise” with ZERO ACCOUNTABILITY. Those problems they’re not causing AFTER release also include multiple burglaries, assault, more drug distribution, and attempted rape…all detailed on our page (and many Police Departments pages) for your review.

“now, we’re giving judges more discretion”

False. Have you actually read Judge Glenn Grants Directive #6-03? Their marching orders are clear…the LEAST restrictive release condition based on the “black box” algorithm PSA. Period. Their hands are tied…and their frustration is showing. Watch the live CJR hearings and see for yourself.

“but what this guy doesn’t say is, it’s saving tens of millions of dollars for states and counties who have to house these folks”

Now Gov, you know this isn’t true. Why even open yourself up like that? The NJAC (New Jersey Association of Counties) has gone so far as to file a formal complaint with the Counsel on Unfunded Mandates. The counties claim that bail reform will cripple the counties to the tune of 54+ million. Add on the 9 million you just spent for 20 more judges (now 450+) and that’s a 63 million dollar expense. Based on the Towson University study, bail reform could ultimately top 500 million. In addition, ask any police chief how this is impacting their overtime and workload…3-4 times the time it takes to process a defendant, countless hours by detectives to get discovery together for CJR hearings. The cost is enormous. By the way, the jails really haven’t seen that drop you were talking about. If anything, they are now forced to process many more defendants thanks to the mandatory 3-4 day jail sentence everyone now receives. The Bar Association has even filed a lawsuit claiming the increases in filing fees were done so unconstitutionally by the judiciary…a move aimed at paying for bail reform of course.

“and what he also doesn’t say is, the ballot question had nothing to do with that (pretrial release). The ballot was to give judges the discretion to not give bail to violent criminals”

Oops…in the State’s fight against the Unfunded Mandate issue, their entire argument against the counties claim is based on the fact that pretrial IS, in fact, part of the constitutional amendment. We happen to agree with you here Gov. Thank you for pointing that out to the Counsel on Unfunded Mandates. By they way, the ballot question WAS vague and misleading…just ask the 9% of your constituents that voted for it. FYI…our “crap” page never claimed that the idea of judges being able to detain the most serious offenders without bail was wrong…nor did we advocate jailing those on small warrants with unnecessary bail.

“Let me tell you what this is all about…he’s repeating on Facebook the stuff they put up there and the crap they put up there.” Referring to the bail bonds community: “Too bad, you shouldn’t be making money off of the poor that way”

No Governor, let me tell YOU what this is about…

This is about the taxpayer funded, dangerous, reckless, unaccountable, and irresponsible release of violent offenders in our community. Pretrial release has failed abroad, and it is failing here.

This is about a system that now has taxpayers picking up the tab for the unaccountable release of violent offenders. Since when did the offender become the victim? Judges have ALWAYS had the ability to protect the “indigent” and release offenders at their discretion.

This is about the false claim of protecting the “poor” with bail reform. Who exactly determines an offenders “indigent” status anyway? Nobody.

This is about the fact that you “shame” an entire industry for profiting off the backs of the poor, yet you fail to mention that the commercial bail industry has never advocated for the use of money bail for lower level charges. In contrast, the State is absolutely crushing those accused with court fees and fines that they cannot pay. Mayors and counsels appoint municipal court judges not based entirely on their credentials…but on their track record of revenue stream for the court. Then…if you don’t pay, offenders are locked up while those charged with more serious crimes walk free. Check the jails Gov…they are overrun with petty nonpayment of fines.

In 2015, commercial bail was financially liable for $634 Million in bail. Commercial bail paid the State 40 Million in negotiated fees (forfeitures and partial remissions of bonds). Those fees helped the state pay for the new ecourt computer software, fund the states 21st Century Fund, and other social programs the State saw fit. Along the way, commercial agents aided in getting defendants back to work, obtain jobs, secure counsel, navigate the court system, and get in to rehabilitation facilities. They monitored the defendants actions and involved their family in taking on the responsibility of pretrial release. If a defendant failed to appear, they tracked the defendant down and apprehended them so that they may answer for their charges…all at NO COST to the taxpayer. THAT Governor, is accountability.

Not even 6 weeks in and already, despite the AG’s statewide Gag order, frustration is setting in…from the Ocean County Chiefs of Police, the PBA, and many police departments. Many are now speaking out because they see first hand how bail reform is failing.

“This NJ Bail Reform is becoming a serious problem for everyone in NJ except criminals. Keep a close eye on this problem. Sometimes you have to scratch your head and wonder what our duly elected politicians were thinking when they made this garbage law. “

“From a corrections POV, it doesn’t do what I feel was sold to the taxpayers. It’s a complete waste but our society hates accountability so it’s a perfect program for 2017 America”
– NJ Corrections Officer

Many have reached out to us Governor. Victims, law enforcement, citizens…they are angry, upset, and frustrated. Calls are being made to legislators…emails sent. Police Department and PBA Facebook pages detail the failures…mocking the system. Cops have even gone door to door to warn their residents of the reckless release of offenders…