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New Jersey mayors urge lawmakers to change bail reform to keep dangerous people in jail

Some mayors and state lawmakers in New Jersey say that crime has been on the upswing for two years, and that one of the reasons is because of the state’s bail reform law.

News 12 Staff

Feb 9, 2022, 12:56 AM

Updated 862 days ago

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Some mayors and state lawmakers in New Jersey say that crime has been on the upswing for two years and that one of the reasons is because of the state’s bail reform law.
“Major cities across America have record-breaking homicides, record-breaking violence two years in a row,” says Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.
The tristate area has seen a scourge of gun violence since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. From a record-breaking year of homicides in Philadelphia last year, to the murder of two NYPD officers in Harlem last month, to the violence in New Jersey cities like Newark, Paterson and Trenton.
The mayors and state lawmakers met on Tuesday at Paterson City Hall and took aim at the state’s bail reform law.
Passed under the administration of former Gov. Chris Christie, bail reform all but ended cash bail in New Jersey. The idea was that judges should not be able to keep people in jail for minor crimes they couldn’t afford to be bailed out for.
But the mayors and police officials say that bail reform has turned into a loophole that allows violent gun offenders who are arrested too quickly to get out and get back on the street.
“We have to do something about people on the street who are committing crimes – violent crimes – and finding their way back to the street weeks later,” Baraka says.
Last year in Paterson, 195 people were arrested in connection with gun crimes, according to the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office. Seventy-five of those people were released. The mayor of Paterson says that it is unclear if any of those who were released were involved in the shootings that have happened in the city so far in 2022.
“We are looking to reform bail reform. We’re not looking to end it, we’re looking to mend it,” says Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh.
Sayegh says 219 guns were seized in Paterson last year.
The officials say that their solution is to allow prosecutors to ask judges for pretrial detention for anyone arrested with an illegal gun.
“We want a solid law that allows people who do not belong in jail because of financial reasons the opportunity and the pathway to come home,” says Baraka.
Republican state Sen. Jon Bramnick told the Democratic mayors that the GOP supports the bill and he wants the changes to bail reform to be fast-tracked through the State House.


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