JACKSON-Jackson Township is a rural suburb nestled at the edge of the New Jersey Pinelands. It’s New Jersey’s third largest town by size in area, with over one hundred square miles. It’s a bedroom community of 54,000 and crime is very low here, but the mayor of the town tonight said even his low crime community will not be able to keep up with New Jersey’s Bail Reform and Speedy Trial Act and he fully supports a resolution being presented to the township council next week.
Jackson Township Michael Reina (R) might be the first mayor in the State of New Jersey to openly express criticism of the state’s new Bail Reform and Speedy Trial Act since it has been enacted when he said tonight that he fully supports a resolution that will be voted on by the township council Tuesday night.
He’s not alone though. Last week, Ocean County Freeholders Joe Vicari and Gerry Little officially launched opposition to the reform law, along with the Ocean County Association of Police Chiefs. A week earlier, the New Jersey Association of Counties opposed legislation sponsored by Lakewood Senator Robert Singer that would have allowed governing bodies to break the 2% tax cap for costs associated with the new law.
Bail reform came into the local spotlight after Little Egg Harbor Police Chief Richard Buzby and Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato were powerless against a local judge’s decision to release a multiple offense child sexual offender back into the community after a pretrial hearing.
The Jackson Township council is expected to vote on the resolution against the new law which has essentially created a revolving door for criminals. It has made New Jersey’s streets less safe for residents and police officers alike. The Toms River PBA last week called bail reform a very serious problem for their town. The resolution to be voted on was circulated by the New Jersey League of Municipalities this week.
“The Criminal Justice Reform Act imposes upon municipal governments an undue financial hardship to implement as each municipality in some capacity must hire new personnel, invest in new equipment and information technology, and make capital and other necessary improvements to jail, court and ancillary court facilities,” the resolution reads. “Under this terribly flawed law, judges now assign a score to determine whether a defendant should be detained or freed. Serious offenders are being let go over prosecutor and law enforcement objection only to go and commit more crimes as soon as they hit the street.”
It states the new reform, which is unfunded by the state, is not only dangerous, and the town will not be able to afford to properly maintain the necessary staffing to comply with the requirements dictated by the state to enforce it locally.
“It is also a massive financial burden to our police department, municipal courts, municipal public defenders and the County Prosecutor’s Office. Detention hearings are expedited and our officers are forced to spend hours on even simple offenses due to demands for our officers to file paperwork and complete cases, some demanding complex analysis, are simply unrealistic and the costs are only going to expand without any financial relief from the state,” it continued “The Criminal Justice Reform Act law has put our residents at risk and threatens the fiscal health of the town and county. ”
Related: Who is benefiting from bail reform?
The council is expected to vote on the resolution Tuesday evening and certified copies will be sent to the Governor of the State of New Jersey, Chris Christie, the President of the New Jersey State Senate, Steve Sweeney, the Speaker of the General Assembly, Vincent Prieto, the New Jersey Association of Counties, the Office of County Counsel and all Ocean County municipalities.
“Yes, I support this resolution,” Reina said when asked his position. “You’re asking me if I support a resolution opposing a state law that helps put criminals back out on our streets, of course I do.”