REPORT: New Jersey Bail Reform ‘National Model’ for Community Safety

Bail reform act by Nick Young, via

By Ramneet Singh

HOUSTON, TX – The philanthropy Arnold Ventures LLC has produced a report noting there are strong indications bail reform in New Jersey “has been successful and is a national model of how to balance community safety with impactful reforms to the justice system.”

The report initially discussed the New Jersey prison population prior to the bail form, linking a 2013 analysis.

At that point, according to the report, the prison population reached about 15,000 where “examining primary custody status, 73.3 percent of the population is pretrial, 16.1 percent sentenced, and 10.7 percent other. More specifically, the majority of the population is pending trial in Superior Court (66.3 percent).”

This is compared to “the NJCJS has an authorized capacity to house 18,467 inmates.”

Concerning demographics, Black and white females constituted 44 percent each of the prison population, where Black males were 54.6 percent and white males were 25.7 percent. Hispanic females were 10.2 percent and males were 18.8 percent.

Concerning cash bail, the Arnold Ventures report noted about 5,000 of the prison population were detained because they could not afford it, in effect, the report said, a “debtor’s prison.”

Arnold Ventures tout the reform’s support and its success, specifically, “a constitutional amendment supported by 62 percent of voters, New Jersey essentially eliminated cash bail and instituted a risk assessment approach.”

The success of the reform is explored through a fact sheet that shows with bipartisan support, the Criminal Justice Reform “has shifted the state from a resource-driven system that based pretrial release decisions on a person’s ability to post monetary bail to a system in which pretrial release decisions are based on the risk that the person will commit another offense or fail to appear in court.”

The fact sheet notes “the pretrial jail population decreased more than 20 percent between 2015 and 2022,” remaining lower than rates before the law despite Covid delays.

For bail, the report cites, “in 2020, the percentage of people held on bail of $2,500 or less fell to just 0.2 percent (or 14 people).”

There has also been less violent crime, and crime generally, the fact sheet said, adding, the NJ reform is “the most comprehensive pretrial legislation implemented in the country.”

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