Mayors of NJ’s biggest cities demand changes to bail reform law

New Jersey

PATERSON, N.J. — The mayors of some of New Jersey’s biggest cities joined together Tuesday and demanded a change to the state’s bail reform law.

The city leaders said due to rising gun violence, people accused of gun crimes should not be able to just walk out of the courtroom.

“We support bail reform,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. “But what we are concerned specifically about, is about folks who are arrested with guns, who have history of using guns. Guys who are arrested for shooting.”

A Paterson woman who walked near the press conference at City Hall said gun violence was so bad in the city, she goes to work and goes home.

“I just try to stay out of the way. Gotta’ try to stay safe. I wish it would stop, but it’s not,” she said.

But staying safe has become increasingly hard. The New Jersey Urban Mayor’s Association said it has reached out to the state’s legislative leaders and the governor. 

“They are receptive to it, it may not even require an amendment. Right now, this is in the office of legislation services,” Paterson Mayor Andrew Sayegh said. “So, they’re seeing if there is some language that can be tweaked, if there is anything we can do without taking legislative action.”

Officials said the pandemic has triggered soaring gun violence.

Anxiety, depression, and despair have led to more shootings.

“Bullets do not have names on them. Sometimes they stray. And we’ve had situations where young children have lost their lives to this senseless gun violence,” Paterson Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said.

The mayors reinforced repeatedly they still support bail reform. They don’t want people to sit in jail because they can’t pay. But when it comes to guns, that’s different. They say there is too much blood in the street. 

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