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Christie Calls for Special Legislative Session on Bail

July 29 (Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called a special session for July 31, seeking passage of legislation overhauling the state’s bail system to keep those accused of the most serious crimes off the streets.

Christie, a second-term Republican, wants lawmakers to approve legislation that would allow the state to hold people accused of a crime without bail if they’re deemed at risk of another offense while awaiting trial. If passed by three-fifths of the 120-member legislature, the measure would be placed on the November ballot for voter approval. A companion bill would allow courts to create bail alternatives for low-income people charged with crimes who can’t afford to pay.

“New Jersey’s current rules for bail determinations for defendants awaiting trial are illogical, dangerous, and fiscally irresponsible,” Christie’s office said today in a statement. “They allow violent criminals back on the streets while defendants who pose no risk to their communities are stuck in jail simply because they cannot afford bail.”

Allowing state courts to hold people without bail would bring New Jersey’s policies in line with those at the federal level, according to the news release. A study by the U.S. Justice Department found that a third of defendants released before trial ended up being charged with some type of pre-trial misconduct, and one-sixth were arrested for a new offense.

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in Trenton at tdopp@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net Alan Goldstein, Mark Tannenbaum

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