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It has been more than seven years since the implementation of the Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA) in the State of New Jersey. The CJRA essentially eliminated cash bail in the Garden State and replaced it with a risk-based assessment approach.
This system was touted as a model of fairness and equity that would permit the pre-trial detention of high-risk dangerous criminals, while preventing the “unnecessary” detention of low level, non-violent, indigent offenders who presented no genuine risk to the community but were previously subject to detention merely because they could not muster the cash to post bail.
At the core of this model is a legally mandated presumption of release that must be overcome by the prosecutor. It also includes the notion that safety assessment algorithms and judicial discretion can truly identify those criminals who present a continuing threat to society as opposed to those who, upon release, will comply with the mandates of the criminal justice system and the community. Not surprisingly, the implementation of the CJRA has proven problematic.
I was practicing law as an assistant county