Criminal Justice Reform

Welcome to the Criminal Justice Reform Information Center. Here you will find information related to the efforts of the Judiciary and its criminal justice reform partners in state, county and municipal government to implement bail and speedy trial reform and to form a pretrial services unit.

On Jan. 1, 2017, the state shifted from a system that relies principally on setting monetary bail as a condition of release to a risk-based system that is more objective, and thus fairer to defendants because it is unrelated to their ability to pay monetary bail. The statute also sets deadlines for the timely filing of an indictment and the disposition of criminal charges for incarcerated defendants.

On This Page

Highlights

New Jersey's criminal justice system is undergoing a major reform. New rules are based on a voter-approved constitutional amendment. It includes reforms to the bail system and a new speedy trial law, which sets time frames for criminal cases. The new criminal justice system fundamentally changes how defendants, and their cases, are processed in courts.

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner writes that new bail system puts New Jersey at the forefront of fairness. Under the new risk-based system, access to money will no longer determine pretrial detainment. Defendants with a serious risk of danger or flight can be detained pending trial. Low-risk defendants who can’t afford bail will be released. Pretrial services officers will monitor those defendants based on the conditions of their release. The reform addresses real consequences for poor defendants – often members of minority groups – who pose little risk.

The changes reflect a commitment to delivering quality justice. A real-world case study from Chief Justice Rabner showcases the impact of bail rules on case outcomes. "In the end, Mallon's inability to post a modest amount of bail likely affected the outcome of his case as much as the weight of the evidence against him."

Join Judge Glenn A. Grant as he discusses issues of pretrial detainment, bail, and more. He covers improvements to "make communities safer, neighborhoods more secure, and promote civil liberties."

Publications

The Public Safety Assessment (PSA) helps courts and judges determine the risk associated with releasing a defendant pretrial. The assessment was developed by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF). The PSA uses nine risk factors to assess the risk of new criminal activity (NCA), including new violent criminal activity (NVCA), and failure to appear (FTA) pending case disposition.

There are many considerations in the Pretrial Release Recommendation Decision Making Framework. Learn how to process works for identifying the pretrial release/detention recommendations that are made to the judge in criminal and municipal cases.

Learn more about new changes with the Criminal Justice Reform Brochure. On Jan. 1, 2017, the state to a risk-based system that is more objective and promotes public safety. It is fairer to defendants because it is unrelated to their ability to pay monetary bail. The new law also sets deadlines for the timely filing of an indictment and the disposition of criminal charges for incarcerated defendants.

Criminal Justice Reform means new information for defendants. You will be charged on a summons or a warrant. If you are charged on a summons, you will be released from custody with a date on which you must appear in court. If you are charged on a warrant, you will be taken to the county jail to wait for your first court appearance.

The Pretrial Services Brochure breaks down the new rules and programs for pretrial release or detention. The purpose of pretrial monitoring is to manage pretrial defendants' risk of failure to appear in court, risk to community safety, and risk of obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process. The monitoring will be conducted in the most effective and least restrictive manner possible to improve the defendant's likelihood of pretrial success.

The Criminal Justice Reform Myth v. Fact Brochure breaks down some of the common misconceptions about the reforms. For example:

  • Myth – Dangerous criminals are being released to the community without supervision until trial.
  • Fact – Before criminal justice reform, a judge was obligated to set bail in most cases. A dangerous defendant with money could post bail and be released. Now, prosecutors for the first time have the opportunity to convince a judge that a defendant poses a significant risk to the community and should be held in jail with no chance for pretrial release.

Criminal Justice Reform represents a fundamental change in how defendants and their cases are processed in the New Jersey courts. On Jan. 1, 2017, the state moved from a system that relied principally on setting monetary bail as a condition of release to a risk-based system that is more objective, promotes public safety and is fairer to defendants because it is unrelated to their ability to pay monetary bail.

Get more information on the new rules with the Criminal Justice Reform Infographic. The new criminal justice system is fairer to poor people and to those who cannot afford to pay money bail, have not committed serious offenses and are not a threat to public safety.

Reports

News Articles