Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Caputo Bill to Crackdown on Gang Activity Released by Assembly Committee
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Ralph Caputo to crackdown on gang activity is advancing toward law.
The bill (A-1036) would require that the court, in making bail determinations, consider whether the defendant is a member of a gang.
"The prosecutor would have opportunity to present evidence, and if that evidence is substantial, the judge would have to take that into consideration and even not issue bail, if appropriate" said Caputo (D-Essex). "This is an unusual remedy to unusual circumstances, but the fact is that the gang problem is so severe.”
Current law does provide for the court to elect, for good cause shown, to impose a higher bail, but requires the court to place on the record its reasons for imposing bail in an amount exceeding $2,500.
Under this bill, these bail limitations would not apply if the court finds a reasonable basis to believe that a defendant is a member of a “criminal street gang” or has committed a crime of “gang criminality.”
“When gang members have been before the court before, and it's been documented that they are gang members, the judge has to have some kind of power to keep that person incarcerated to protect public safety,” Caputo said.
The bill was released by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.