New Jersey voters approved a proposal to amend the state constitution allowing judges to deny pre-trial release to some defendants charged with serious crimes, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. The constitutional amendment, which won’t take effect until 2017, would affect defendants who are considered a danger, a flight risk or a threat to obstruct justice.
Gov. Chris Christie has been pushing for the bail amendment for two years, having coupled it with a push to expand the drug court system so that first-time nonviolent offenders are sentenced to mandatory treatment and not prison time. The fix, he said, was necessary because New Jersey’s constitution only allows for judges to deny bail to defendants charged with offenses punishable by the death penalty. The state repealed the death penalty in 2007, meaning all defendants are eligible for bail.