A Star-Ledger article yesterday evening opened with “Gov. Chris Christie will likely get his wish on bail reform.” Why should the main point be that Christie will get his wish? It has long been a wish of Democratic and Republican legislators, the judiciary, advocacy groups like the ACLU, people who have a family member awaiting trial in jail on a minor charge for ten months because he or she cannot afford bail, and community members who fear that a dangerous criminal will return to terrorize their neighborhood because he or she can pay a high bail.
Yes, passage of these two bills will burnish Christie’s presidential image, but that is no reason to vote against it. Opponents failed to articulate a clear, sensible reason. The bills are a needed reform for our state. That is the reason to vote for it. The Senate has already passed both bills.
For a while it seemed that the Assembly might not reconvene on Monday to take up bail reform, but Assembly Speaker Vince Prieto has announced the matter will be scheduled for a vote on Monday (along with an important open space funding bill). For the Democratic Assembly not to move forward because it might benefit the Republican Governor bears comparison with the U. S. Republican House which is averse to anything President Obama likes. Just yesterday the House failed to bring to the floor an immigration bill for youths fleeing violence from Central America even though it reduced Obama’s budget request by 75%, stripped consideration of the youths as worthy of asylum, and funded their quick return to life-threatening conditions.
Fortunately, NJ often shows better sense than Washington, and our legislators can occasionally set aside partisanship for the greater good.