In 2017, New Jersey eliminated cash bail in favor of a system that gives judges broad latitude to hold or release defendants awaiting trial based on their risk of flight and reoffense. Under the new system, most defendants face a presumption of release, meaning prosecutors must show by “clear and convincing evidence” that they should be held while awaiting trial.
Now, Senator Joseph “Lock ’em up Joe” Cryan is trying to roll back New Jersey bail reforms to make it harder for people charged with some crimes to be released from jail before trial, a move opposed by advocates who fear a rise in incarceration split heavily along racial lines.
Each year, at least 86,000 different people are booked into local jails in New Jersey. Around the country, high imprisonment rates are correlated with other community problems related to poverty, employment, education, and health.
Six New Jersey counties are home to more than half of the state’s imprisoned population, which has been identified as one of the most racially unequal in America.
Civil rights groups and New Jersey Public Defender Joseph Krakora oppose Cryan’s bill, warning that the measure would lead to an increase in incarcerations after the state cut its jail population by thousands in recent years.
Representatives from the New Jersey branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Vera Institute of Justice, and the progressive think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective echoed Krakora on the issue.
New Jersey has an incarceration rate of 341 per 100,000 people (including prisons, jails, immigration detention, and juvenile justice facilities), meaning that it locks up a higher percentage of its people than almost any democracy on earth.
Newark is one of the most racially segregated cities in the nation, in the most segregated county in New Jersey. And research has shown that policing tends to be concentrated in neighborhoods composed of Black people.
In Newark, where the city population is almost 50% Black, Black people make up 75% of arrests. In 2020, Black people in the city were 1.6 times more likely to be stopped by police, 2.5 times more likely to be arrested, and 3.7 times more likely to be victims of police use of force than non-Hispanic white Newark residents.
New Jersey is one of nine states that have lowered their prison population by 30% or more in recent years, but it is also one of 12 states where more than half the prison population is Black.
America maintains the distinction of being the world leader in its use of incarceration, including more than 1.2 million people held in state prisons around the country.
In New Jersey, Black people are incarcerated at a rate over twelve times that of White people.
The Sentencing Project’s 2016 report identified New Jersey as ranking highest in the nation in Black-to-white disparity, and policymakers responded by making changes that lowered the African-American prison population by about 38 percent but Cryan, whose father was the Essex County sheriff who worked to suppress voting during the peak of the civil rights movement, is seeking to roll back those reforms.
In New Jersey, studies showed that 60 percent of the prison population was black, and only 23 percent white, despite the fact that African Americans make up 14.8 percent of the general population.
The Hispanic prison population was 16 percent,
You must log in to post a comment.