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New Jersey’s Bail Industry At Risk of Dissolving with New System

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Bail bond agents in New Jersey are speaking out following the bail reform saying that the transition from a monetary system to one that relies on risk assessment could eliminate the commercial bail industry altogether.

According to an article on The Trentonian website, bail bond agents in New Jersey made nice profits each year helping criminal defendants post bail in state Superior Court, but all that ended abruptly following the bail reform, which went into effect on Jan. 1.

Read more: Criminal Defense Attorneys, New Jersey

“Robert Clark of Trenton’s AAA Bail Bonds Inc. said the state’s transition from a monetary-based bail system toward one that primarily relies upon risk assessment has put New Jersey’s commercial bail industry at risk of dissolving,” the article reads.

Clark told the newspaper that prior to the bail reform, about 3,000 people had jobs directly related to helping defendants post bail in New Jersey.

“These are 3,000 taxpayers who are going to be potentially unemployed,” he said in the article. “Now you have bail bondsmen from New Jersey migrating to Pennsylvania and paying taxes there.”

While bail does still exist in New Jersey, it’s only an option in a handful of cases following the bail reform. Now, it’s extremely rare for a newly arrested defendant to be released on bail.

“First quarter criminal justice statistics from Jan. 1 through March 31 show New Jersey judges imposed monetary bail as a condition of release only eight times out of the thousands of defendants who have been arrested this year on criminal charges,” the article reads. “The vast majority have been released within 48 hours of their arrest on their own recognizance or with minimal non-monetary conditions of release.”

Now, several bail bondsmen have said they haven’t bailed any newly arrested defendants out since the reform went into effect. One bail bondsman told The Trentonian that while he used to see an annual profit of about $100,000, now he’s looking at making only $15,000. That bondsman said he’s only able to keep his head above water financially because he also earns income from his real estate business.

The bail reform has now left more than 700 bail bond agents in New Jersey scratching their heads and wondering what they need to do next.

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