N.J. Senate panel advances bail reform bill

New Jersey’s bail system could see some changes.A measure advanced by the Senate Budget Committee would create pretrial bail alternatives for poor defendants charged with committing nonviolent crimes.

Recent studies show that more than a third of New Jersey’s pretrial detainees remain in jail because they can’t afford bail.

An offender’s risk to the community — not his financial resources — should determine whether he is released on bail before trial, said Sen. Donald Norcross, D-Camden.

Another provision of the bill calls for judges to have the discretion to deny bail to the state’s most violent suspects pending trial.

That provision is a constitutional change that requires voter approval.

The measures would bring New Jersey’s pretrial release laws in line with federal law.

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