NJ Bail Review Sought After Suspect’s Re-Arrest

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Newark’s public safety director is calling for a review of New Jersey’s new bail rules after a man who had been arrested and released with a location-monitoring bracelet was again arrested Sunday after shots were fired at a house, the Wall Street Journal reports. Joseph Brown, 24,  was again taken into custody after a car chase with police. He was charged with assault and gun possession in connection with a March 2 shooting in which shots were fired at a Newark home. Brown was first arrested in January on gun and narcotics charges but released eight days later on the condition he wear a location-monitoring device. He “is another example of a released suspect who posed a public safety threat to the residents of Newark,“ Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said, adding that the case indicates the new bail rules should be “re-examined.” Sweeping changes to the state’s bail system largely replaced monetary bail with a risk-based approach to determining whether defendants should be released from jail as they await trial.

Some law-enforcement officials worry that would endanger public safety by releasing criminals who may again commit offenses. Alexander Shalom of the American Civil Liberties Union said it was “disingenuous” to say the new rules pose a threat to public safety, and stressed that they increase the fairness factor for nonviolent defendants unable to afford cash bail. “Under the old system, people who are dangerous were also frequently released…because they had enough money to buy their way out of jail,” Shalom said. “No system of pretrial release is going to eliminate all risk.” Stuart Rabner, chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, said bail has been used in only a small fraction of the cases heard by the court system this year. More than 875 defendants have been held in jail because they pose a substantial public-safety risk or risk of flight.

 

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