Christie proposes bail reform in New Jersey
Updated On: Jul 31 2014 06:15:19 PM CDT
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is calling for an overhaul of the state's bail system.
The senate has passed two new bills, but the assembly has yet to hold a vote.
The governor is pushing a pair of bills that would release low level criminals without making them pay bail and keep more dangerous suspects in jail.
Christie says he didn't want to call the special session, but bail reform is needed in New Jersey now.
"These changes are serious and when they are to be made they should be made by those people who are elected and therefore accountable," said Christie.
The Senate debated and passed two pieces of legislation.
The first would put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot asking residents if they want to grant judges the power to deny bail to those the court views as a danger to the public, or those who are considered a flight risk.
The second bill would create an alternative bail system for people who commit less dangerous crimes and can't afford bail.
People like Iquann Small, a man who spent four months in jail on a criminal mischief charge because he couldn't afford the $40,000 bail.
"I lost my job, spent time away from my family, it was just a bad situation," added Small.
Some legislators may not be so willing to pass the legislation before the August 4 deadline.
Warren County Senator Michael Doherty says he would only vote for the constitutional amendment, not the legislation that would create a new bail system.
"That has $40- or $50- million of new fees, which a lot of us call taxes so I am not voting for that," said Doherty.
New Jersey assembly members are not even meeting.
"We have some time until Monday," said Vincent Prieto, speaker of the New Jersey assembly. "Then I will make a decision after we hear the governor today speak."
"I can not force anyone in the legislature to vote," added Christie. "I hope it's your sense of fairness and justice that moves you to vote."
The assembly announced they will take up the issue on Monday.
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