Advocates worry certain bills will marginalize people of color

Advocates are particularly worried about a package of auto theft bills, which they say would “undermine” bail reform in New Jersey. Bail reform was a bipartisan effort led by former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican. Currently, the legal presumption is that a person will not be detained before a trial unless the charge is a specific crime, including murder or a crime eligible for a life sentence. One of the auto theft bills, A-5189, would eliminate what’s referred to as the “presumption of pretrial release” for those committing certain auto theft crimes.

Yannick Wood of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice called this legislation a “slippery slope.”

“We shouldn’t be making changes (to bail reform) based on … the false narratives about where crime is right now (rather than) through a data-driven process,” said Wood. “That’s not the best way of impacting policy that’s going to end up detaining and incarcerating people.”