Bail Reform: Saving Time and Resources

by | Dec 11, 2016 | Blog, Criminal Law, Law Reform and Amendments

“The systems and policies established in this Directive depend on police and prosecutors following the correct sequence of steps to initiate the automated pretrial risk-assessment process. See also subsection 2.2.1. The State Police and AOC have established an interface between the Live Scan fingerprint system and eCDR. The interface transmits confirmed Live Scan records to the eCDR system so that when police generate a complaint, Live Scan record data automatically will populate many of the required fields on the eCDR. The interface in this way reduces the time needed to enter data, enhances data quality, and ensures positive identification of defendants.”

This is encouraging from a governmental efficiency standpoint since the automatic populating of fields that would otherwise be done manually would appear to save a lot of time and resources. However, we would have to offset this time saved with the number of additional employees, time and resources that are required to operate and oversee the new pretrial assessment system itself. This would presumably include tech-savvy skilled employees that would command higher salaries than a typical administrative worker.

“Given the importance of Live Scan fingerprinting as the initial step in obtaining an objective pretrial risk assessment, it is necessary to confirm that law enforcement agencies upon making an arrest have the means to initiate the automated pretrial risk-assessment process. Accordingly, within 30 days of the issuance of this Directive, the State Police shall identify every law enforcement agency operating under the authority of the laws of the State of New Jersey to determine whether the agency is equipped with a Live Scan system that has up-to-date software capable of initiating the automated pretrial risk-assessment process approved by the AOC. Within 45 days of the issuance of this Directive, the State Police shall report to the agency, and to the Director of the Division of Criminal Justice and each appropriate County Prosecutor, if the agency is not so equipped, and shall indicate what steps the agency would need to take to achieve the capacity to initiate the automated pretrial risk-assessment process (e.g., obtain new hardware, update Live Scan software, update computer operating system, etc.). Nothing herein shall be construed to mandate any purchase or expenditure, and an agency that is not equipped with a Live Scan system capable of initiating the AOC-approved pretrial risk-assessment process will make other arrangements for fingerprinting defendants pursuant to subsections 2.2.3 and 2.2.4.”

Here, a natural concern is that we see another reason why arrestees will likely end up detained for extended periods when they would otherwise be released under the current system. Police departments, especially the smaller ones, are naturally going to want to use the resources of neighboring departments as opposed to spending from their own budgets. That adds another level coordination and transportation in taking arrestees to a second police department before a low risk for flight can be released from custody on a summons. Note that the Attorney General prohibits using “a Criminal Inquiry submission . . .in lieu of a Live Scan Criminal Arrest Record submission, which is needed so that the AOC-approved automated pretrial risk-assessment system can generate a PSA.”