Governor Chris Christie is urging lawmakers to act on changing the state's bail system; it's been more than a year since he first made the proposal for a constitutional amendment.

Governor Christie hosts his 104th town hall in Middlesex. (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

At his latest town hall in Middlesex, Christie said the legislature is just playing politics by failing to act on his proposal.

Under Christie's plan, judges in New Jersey would have the power to decide whether a violent offender can or can not be entitled to bail before a trial.

Currently, bail entitlement is automatic for anyone before conviction, unless the defendant is considered a flight risk.

Christie's measure would mirror federal law.

"When you have someone with a long record of violent conduct, of violent convictions, we send those people back into the neighborhood that they just were arrested in," Christie explained. "And what do they do? They commit other violent acts."

He said failing to act on the proposal makes New Jersey's neighborhoods more dangerous, and it puts witnesses at risk.

The amendment, which would ultimately have to be approved by voters on the ballot, was introduced by Christie in conjunction with his drug treatment plan. Lawmakers green-lighted the treatment plan, which keeps first-time, non-violent drug offenders out of prison.

The bail measure was posted in late June, but not voted on before the state budget was put to bed.


Governor's Office