Since New Jersey’s bail reform laws were tweaked five years ago, much local government and law enforcement officials at the Jersey Shore and some state lawmakers have expressed genuine concern that it has led to a rise in crime, particularly among repeat offenders due to “catch-and-release” policies imposed on law enforcement and correctional facilities.
In an exclusive Townsquare Media News interview at the Monmouth County Correctional Institute in Freehold in January 2019, Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden called Bail Reform a “revolving door” for drug offenders.
In March 2022, Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden, State GOP Senators Declan O’Scanlon and Michael Testa, and Townsquare Media News discussed how the Bail Reform law’s flaws had increased car thefts and crime.
Car thefts and vehicle burglaries in New Jersey, especially Monmouth County, have increased due to bail reform law faults.
Monmouth County has had over 560 automobile thefts this year.
Sheriff Shaun Golden thinks bail reform may be making auto thieves bolder.
“Statistical proof of bail reform and its failure in this equation of stolen vehicles is irrefutable,” Golden added.
Sheriff Golden has proposed answers to this problem for years, but the Statehouse hasn’t taken them up.
“The leaders have spoken about this in the administration and the legislature, they know there’s an issue, but they haven’t done anything to fix it upon our law enforcement requests — the Chiefs of Police, the Sheriffs across the state of New Jersey.
All pointing to the fact that we are not keeping repeat offenders in the jail awaiting trial and that allows them back out on our streets to do it over and over again,” Golden said.
Sheriff Golden and others are waiting on state legislators to adopt proposed bail reform and auto theft solutions.
“We’ve offered them ideas about legislative change — let’s go to a 3-strikes, if you want to give them a second chance, we’re cool with that, but obviously if they’re out 3-4-5 times — there’s an issue,” Golden said.
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“Let’s go to a 3-strikes on motor vehicles — so, if you steal 3 automobiles, guess what, you’re staying in jail until your trial. Start there.”
Sheriff Golden said MCCI statistics show an increase in auto thefts in Monmouth County following New Jersey’s Bail Reform Law reforms.
“Before bail reform in 2017, we averaged around 185 vehicles (thefts), every year, year over year, it’s gone up 100: 2018—240, 2019—just over 300, 2020—320, and 2022—almost 550 stolen motor vehicles,” Golden added.
Since bail reform was established five years ago in 2017, any county’s data will show an increase.
Sheriff Golden believes Trenton auto thefts will escalate until reform is enacted.
“We are letting these repeat offenders back out on the street to re-offend and continue to steal vehicles, and, until we stop that behavior with some type of change in policy and law — we’ve had press conferences, we’ve written letters, we’ve certainly had conversations with our legislators — they must act on this, and, until they do, we’ll continue to see our communities being raided with stolen vehicles.”