In this video press release, Assemblymen Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic), Robert Andrzejczak (D-Cape May) and Timothy J. Eustace (D-Bergen) discuss legislation they sponsored that puts a constitutional amendment to overhaul the state’s criminal justice system before voters on the November ballot.
The measure (ACR-177) proposes an amendment to the state constitution that would institute much needed changes to both the pretrial release and detention programs in New Jersey and grant the Legislature the authority to enact these changes through companion legislation signed into law today.
The proposed amendment to the New Jersey Constitution would authorize a court, under certain circumstances, to order the pretrial detention of a person in a criminal case by changing the current constitutional right to bail.
While eliminating the upfront right to bail, the proposed amendment would still make all persons eligible for pretrial release from jail by either bail or another means. However, an individual’s release could be denied by the court based upon concerns that a jailed person, if released, would: not return to court when required; be a threat to the safety of another person or the community; or obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process.
The proposed amendment would also remove superfluous language in the state constitution about bail eligibility for death penalty cases because the death penalty no longer exists in New Jersey.
If approved by voters this November, the amendment would take effect on January 1, 2017, allowing the Legislature time to properly establish appropriate procedures, terms and conditions related to the constitutional changes and providing ample time for their implementation.