‘Freezing crook’ arrested day after release — but Christie defends bail reform
New Jersey 101.5 video
TRENTON — A few hours in jail wasn't enough to chill a burglary suspect rescued from a snow pile, who police say has vowed to commit more crimes after being released from custody.
George Pescavage Jr., 47, who was found bleeding and nearly frozen to death Friday after allegedly breaking into a South Brunswick liquor store, has become the latest poster boy for what some critics see as bail reform's failure.
A day after Pescavage was released from jail Saturday, police in North Brunswick say he went on to try to break into a Quick Aid Pharmacy in their township.
In a post on Facebook, police said Pescavage "indicated to Detectives that even he couldn't believe that he was plainly released after just four hours" and that "if he is again released so soon, he will again commit a similar crime in order to get by."
The department is among a growing number of law enforcement officials who are sounding the alarm about the state’s bail reform efforts.
But Gov. Chris Christie says much of the criticism is "ridiculous" propaganda "crap" posted online by the state's bail bondsmen, who face extinction under the new rules.
“The bail bonds community has made a fortune over the years predominantly on the backs of poor people in New Jersey,” Christie said Monday on New Jersey 101.5’s Ask the Governor. “We are now stopping them from doing it and they’re pissed. Too bad. You shouldn’t be making money off the poor that way.”
The state last month moved to a new bail system that allows judges to keep people accused of violent crimes behind bars before their trial. The rules also allow judges to release the vast majority of criminal defendants without bail.
The previous bail system only allowed judges to consider flight risk in setting bail. As a result, wealthy defendants charged in violent crimes were able to spring free from jail while poorer defendants facing nonviolent charges languished behind bars waiting for their trial.
Christie said the reforms are saving "tens of millions of dollars" for counties who now have to house fewer inmates.
"They are not being released on nothing more than a promise," Christie said. "They are given bracelets, where if they are not where they are supposed to and they break the bracelet they get arrested. They have officers they have to report to. And these are nonviolent people who are not causing problems when they get out."
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.