Governor wants lawmakers to tweak bail reform after complaints from police, Manchester officials

Governor wants lawmakers to tweak bail reform after complaints from police, Manchester officials

(excerpt from the Union Leader Oct 4 2019)

CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu is calling for legislators to review the bail reform law passed last year and consider new legislation. But legislators who introduced the new law pointed out on Friday that the law established a commission to review the implementation of bail reform and make recommendations for the next legislative session.

In a Friday statement, Sununu said he still supported the idea of not incarcerating someone because they could not afford to pay cash bail. But, Sununu said, he had heard from police and Manchester officials that since the bail reform law was passed, too many people accused of crimes had been released from jail and went on to allegedly commit other crimes.

Sununu said he wanted to gather a group of legislators from both parties to “fix” bail reform.

“We can find a solution that ensures public safety while not needlessly incarcerating someone simply because they cannot afford bail,” Sununu said in a statement.

Bail is intended to make sure criminal defendants appear in court. When someone is accused of a crime, a judge or bail commissioner sets a cash bail or chooses to release a defendant without a payment on “personal recognizance.” The bail reform laws aim to release people who are not dangerous, but who cannot afford to pay cash bail—and spare taxpayers the expense of housing these people in jails before they go to trial. If a judge or bail commissioner decides a defendant is too dangerous to let out of jail, the defendant can be held without bail. People who are charged with crimes while out on bail are not supposed to be released again, according to a state handbook for bail commissioners.

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