Newark -- The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) applauds the U.S. Supreme Court decision in which it declined to hear an appeal of New Jersey’s landmark Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA). The law, enacted in January 2017, essentially eliminated money bail in the state.
The court yesterday evening declined to grant certiorari, or a writ by which the high court would review the lower-court decision, in the class-action lawsuit, Brittan B. Holland, et al. v. Kelly Rosen, et al. (PDF).
The lawsuit sought to force New Jersey judges to consider monetary bail on equal footing with non-monetary conditions of release and claimed the ability to buy one’s way out of jail and out of conditions of pretrial release is a constitutional right. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in July that the landmark law was constitutional.
“This U.S. Supreme Court decision reaffirms that the framework of New Jersey’s bipartisan pretrial justice reforms is constitutionally sound,” said Alexander Shalom, ACLU-NJ Senior Supervising Attorney. “We hope this decision encourages the dozens of other states considering similar reforms to continue down that very important path.”
With the understanding that the centuries-old cash bail system preyed on underprivileged New Jersey communities, the CJRA largely did away with money bail in favor of a risk-based assessment system that assesses whether someone charged with a crime is a flight risk or a danger to the community. It presumes release for almost all defendants. New Jersey’s pretrial jail population fell 26 percent between its inception and Sept. 30, 2018. Advocates are awaiting additional data regarding the effect of the reforms on racial disparities in pretrial incarceration.