New Jersey – Judiciary Denies OPRA Request While Attorney General’s Office Criticizes the “Science” Of Risk Assessments | What Are They Hiding?

The Superior Court of New Jersey has denied US Bail Reform’s Opra request for information relating to statistics on pretrial release and bail reform – even as the Attorney General’s Office criticizes the “science” of the Arnold Foundation’s risk assessment tool that the ACLU is so desperately busy defending.

On March 20, 2017, US Bail Reform sent via email and priority mail an OPRA request for public information relating to bail reform and pretrial release statistics.



After a month long series of phone calls and follow up requests, the court assigned us an ombudsman who quickly referred us to the judiciary’s website.  According to the ombudsman, this is the only information available relating to our request.

The watered down statistics published by the judiciary are grossly insufficient in determining the performance of the Criminal Justice Reform Act – which only leads us to believe that the side-stepping was intentional.

When questioned by US Bail Reform about the lack of transparency, the ombudsman stated that the court was governed under Rule 1:38 regarding access to court information.  Seeing as though we were not asking for any information that seemed to fall under Rule 1:38, we were left empty handed.

Among some of the 27 items we requested and were denied access to were;

  • To date, since the implementation of bail reform, how many defendants are being monitored by PTS?
  • Of the total, how many are being supervised under level 1, level 2, level 3, and level 3+? Of the total, how many are being monitored (total and by county) by ankle monitors?
  • How many ankle monitors have been allotted to each county? How many specifically does each county have? Of those totals, how many are in use and how many are available?
  • How many ankle monitor violations have their been since Jan 1, 2017? Of those defendants that have violated, how many have been remanded back to the jail?
  • Of the total defendants being monitored under pretrial, how many pre-trial violations have been reported (total and by county)?
  • Of the total defendants that were issued a CDR1, how many have reoffended or been charged with another offense?
  • Of the total defendants that were issued a CDR1, how many have subsequently failed to appear at a court appearance? Of those, how many had a FTA warrant issued?
  • Of the total defendants that were released OR, how many have reoffended or been charged with another offense?
  • Of the total defendants that were released OR, how many have subsequently failed to appear at a court appearance? Of those, how many had a FTA warrant issued?
  • Of the total defendants that were released by PTS on level 1 monitoring, how many have reoffended or been charged with another offense?
  • Of the total defendants that were released by PTS on level 1 monitoring, how many have subsequently failed to appear at a court appearance? Of those, how many had a FTA warrant issued?
  • Of the total defendants that were released by PTS on level 2 monitoring, how many have reoffended or been charged with another offense?
  • Of the total defendants that were released by PTS on level 2 monitoring, how many have subsequently failed to appear at a court appearance? Of those, how many had a FTA warrant issued?
  • Of the total defendants that were released by PTS on level 3 monitoring, how many have reoffended or been charged with another offense?
  • Of the total defendants that were released by PTS on level 3 monitoring, how many have subsequently failed to appear at a court appearance? Of those, how many had a FTA warrant issued?
  • Of the total defendants that were released by PTS on level 3+ monitoring, how many have reoffended or been charged with another offense?
  • Of the total defendants that were released by PTS on level 3+ monitoring, how many have subsequently failed to appear at a court appearance? Of those, how many had a FTA warrant issued?
  • Of those released by any form of pre-trial monitoring, how many active warrants have been issued for failing to appear or for pre-trial violations? How many of those are currently active fugitives?
  • What are the procedures when there is a violation of pre-trial monitoring?

So why are we being denied access to this information? We can only speculate as to why…but we have our suspicions.

Let’s suppose they really do not have some of the information we requested (failure to appear rates for example).  Wouldn’t that qualify as gross incompetence not to be able to measure the success of the program they continue to praise?

Perhaps the devil is in the details.

On April 7 2017, Elie Honig, the Director of the Division of Criminal Justice, sent a letter to the judiciary requesting that the court to make “modifications” to the Public Safety Assessment (“PSA”) due to concerns that the PSA “undervalue’s the danger posed by defendants.”

The letter went on to list several examples of the PSA recommending the pretrial release of dangerous offenders, reoffenders, and violators of pretrial monitoring.

The fact is – what the Attorney General’s Office is requesting is the altering of the “science” of the PSA that supporters of these tools claim are “fairer and smarter.”

ACLU: Why N.J.’s new pretrial justice system is fairer and smarter | Opinion

Bail reform saving $, is fairer; Stand for science in Trenton

Bail reforms improved N.J. pretrial system

The judiciary’s request will likely die on the vine due to the fact that the Arnold Foundation (who developed the risk assessment) holds no warranty, no liability, and makes the state sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding the assessment and its Magic 8-Ball recommendation formula.

US Bail Reform has obtained an agreement between the John Arnold Foundation and the Bernalillo County Stakeholders in New Mexico – where they also implemented Arnold’s risk assessment tool.

No liability.  No warranty.  Non-disclosure.

So how exactly do we know this PSA works again?  Oh, that’s right, because you told us it would.




You’ve been LIED to New Jersey…NJ Bail Reform is RECKLESS, DANGEROUS, and YOU are PAYING for it.


 

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