New Jersey – A Criminal Justice System in Disarray

New Jersey

As of Friday, Rolando Arriso is back in custody.  Arriso failed to appear in a New Jersey court in 2016.  His $100,000 bail bond was forfeited by the court, as a matter of course.  Once the bail agent determined the FTA would not be easily resolved, the case was assigned to a recovery team and the search for the fugitive was underway.

Arriso proved to be elusive.  Once it was learned he fled to Florida, the recovery team spent hundreds of man hours and thousands of dollars in expenses in their efforts to apprehend Arriso.  After receiving a tip, Arisso was located and apprehended in a Tampa area Walmart parking lot where he was pulled out from under a vehicle.  It was reported he was wielding a tire iron and resisting arrest.  Arriso’s fugitive days are now over.  He’s resting comfortably in a Florida jail awaiting extradition to New Jersey.

Under New Jersey’s taxpayer funded statewide pretrial release program that went into effect January 1, 2017, Rolando Arriso would have qualified for a release on his own recognizance.  Had Arriso failed to appear while out on an OR release who, on behalf of the state, would have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars tracking down this fugitive in an effort to return him to custody?  After all, the strategy of most county pretrial programs with respect to fugitive recovery, is to wait until they are picked up during a traffic stop.

Since New Jersey’s government bonding program went into effect at the beginning of the year, there has been news reports of repeat and aggravated offenders being released OR.  It’s a criminal justice system out of control and welcome relief to bad actors running afoul of the law.  Failures to appear are already mounting and the unfunded costs of this expanded bureaucracy are skyrocketing.

On that point, a complaint filed with the Council on Local Mandates last December by the New Jersey Association of Counties, argues “certain sections of the Criminal Justice Reform constitute an unfunded mandate, and are therefore unconstitutional.”  The Council is expected to issue a ruling on this complaint later this month.

Fortunately, while the use of bail bonds has dropped considerably, they still remain a release option for the New Jersey courts. It is being reported, after seeing a sharp rise in failures to appear, some judges are returning to the use of bail bonds to guarantee a defendant’s appearance.

Wiser heads may ultimately prevail in weeding The Garden State of its criminal justice missteps, reinstating the notion, those charged with a criminal offense are expected to appear in court until their case has been adjudicated.  As for Rolando Arriso, with the help of a tenacious, expert recovery team, his case will be adjudicated upon his return, assuming that is, he is not released OR under New Jersey’s pretrial release program. Perish the thought.