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New Jersey Jail Population Analysis: Identifying Opportunities to Safely and Responsibly Reduce the Jail Population

NCJ Number
Marie VanNostrand, Ph.D.
Date Published
March 2013
22 pages
This study examined New Jersey's jail populations.
This study examined New Jersey's jail population in order to identify opportunities to responsibly reduce the number of people incarcerated in county jails while maintaining public safety and the integrity of the judicial process. Findings show that a majority of inmates in the county jail system are pending trial; nearly three-fourths of all New Jersey jail inmates were pending trial or sentencing in either Superior Court (66 percent) or Municipal Court (7 percent). The large number and percentages of pretrial inmates appear to be caused by three primary factors. First, 41 percent of the total active pending cases in the Municipal Court were in backlog status; more than half (53 percent) of the Superior Court criminal cases pre-indictment were considered to be in backlog status; and 45 percent of the criminal cases post-indictment were considered to be in backlog status. Second, as of the day the jail snapshot was taken, inmates who had been indicted but had not yet had a trial had been in custody on average 314 days. Third, 12 percent of the entire jail population was held in custody solely due to an inability to pay $2,500 or less to secure their release pending disposition. This study includes information related to criminal justice system trends and key stakeholder agencies (e.g., crime rate, incident, and arrest statistics; law enforcement; prosecutor; public defender; and the courts) which provide context to the population profile results and to aid in the identification of appropriate opportunities to responsibly reduce the jail population. Tables, figures, and appendixes