If you live in New Jersey, it's time to buy a gun
The authorities in New Jersey, like those in many liberal states, feel that bail for criminal suspects discriminates against potential criminals who can't afford to post bail. Therefore, they are more and more doing away with bail, for accused drug dealers, accused rapists, and even people accused of attempted murder.
Jamie Contrano squirmed at the defendant's table inside the Passaic County Court House here. She had been charged with possessing four envelopes of heroin, and, having failed to show up for more than a dozen court appearances over the years, she was a perfect candidate for a high bail – and a lengthy jail stay. Ms. Contrano, who was charged with heroin possession, had the worst score, both because of her 17 failures to appear in previous court cases and because of an outstanding assault charge. "I made a bad judgment call," she said to the judge, referring to her recent arrest. "I'm sorry."
Judge Ernest M. Caposela, who oversees Passaic County, noted that Ms. Contrano, 39, had a job at a carwash and was seeing a doctor specializing in addiction. He decided to let her out. "Will she fall off the wagon?" Judge Caposela said in an interview after the hearing. "She might. But sitting in jail is only going to hurt her."
She had "missed," or failed to show up for, 17 court appearances, but Judge Caposela couldn't believe that Jamie could be a flight risk and thought that jail would hurt her, rather than considering that her release could hurt others.
The hearing illustrated the sharply altered legal landscape after voters in 2014 supported amending New Jersey's Constitution to nearly eliminate cash bail. New Jersey's changes, which were backed by Gov. Chris Christie, closely mirror those adopted by the federal judicial system and the District of Columbia, which have long shunned monetary bail in criminal proceedings.
Accused rapists and even someone accused of attempted murder have been released without bail.
"There is no system that eliminates all risk," Chief Justice Rabner said. "Last year, there was a risk that anyone released on bail could go out and commit a serious crime pending trial. What we are attempting to do is evaluate the level of risk with objective measures."
Still, he acknowledged: "There will be a crisis one day, where a single defendant will violate conditions and does something that grabs the public's attention."
What could that crisis be? Perhaps...murder or rape or violent assault? And if it happens, Chief Justice Rabner makes it clear that any complaints will be inconsequential. After all, it's only natural that a single defendant released will harm someone. When will that become consequential to Justice Rabner? When there are ten rapes? Twenty violent assaults? Thirty murders?
If you live in New Jersey, it's time to buy a gun. At least you can be protected in your home. It is obvious that your state and local governments are doing nothing to protect you from the worst criminals.
Deputy Editor Drew Belsky adds: Good luck. This ex-resident knows from having lived there that New Jersey's gun laws are some of the most onerous in the nation. After one finally gets his pistol (having paid for and filled out and submitted his permit form in quadruplicate), he can enjoy taking it to and from his shooting range only, as carrying open or concealed is de facto forbidden except in one's home or business.
Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.