New Jersey lawmakers push to amend bail reform laws amid spike in gun violence

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- The surge in crime and gun violence in the area has led to growing calls for bail reform to keep criminals off the street.

Lawmakers, public officials and leaders in law enforcement say the reforms meant to help poor low-level offenders has created a loophole making it possible for violent criminals to get out of jail following a bail hearing.

"We not looking to end it, we're looking to amend it," said Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh.

Leaders are asking the New Jersey state legislature to amend the bail reform law.

It's a humbling admission that the original law had unintended consequences, allowing suspects arrested for gun possession to be released.

"Those who are arrested with illegal weapons are detained so they're not back on the streets either doing the shooting or becoming the next shooting victim," Sayegh said.

Those who supported the original law realize the courts and judges have their hands tied making it possible for suspects arrested with a gun to be released following a bail hearing.



Lawmakers on both sides say they are ready to take action.

"The bad guys know whether they're going to get detention or not, this is a minor change to our bail reform law," Republican state Sen. John Bramnick said. "But it's a major change to our policy in New Jersey."

"Anything we have to do to address illegal firearms, I will be in the forefront, and it's not a New Jersey unfortunately, this has become a U.S. issue," said Democratic state Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly.

The New Jersey leaders are joining forces with New York City Mayor Eric Adams who wants bail reform changes in light of the increase in violence crimes in the city involving guns.

Officials say they are not trying to dismantle bail reform, but just trying to make the cities safe for everyone.

"We want a solid law that allows people who do not belong in jail because of financial reasons the opportunity and the pathway to come home," said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. "We also want a pathway for those that are committing violent crimes to stay inside and not become a terror to our community or families to our residents."

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(Previous coverage) Police believe he's driving a 1998 white Jeep Grand Cherokee with black roof racks and New Jersey plates.



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