Nearly half of all people being held in country jails across New Jersey cannot afford to post bail and remain incarcerated for an extended period, according to a new report released earlier this week by a New York City-based think tank and advocacy group.
The report, issued on Monday by the Drug Policy Alliance, revealed that four out of 10 people in county jails have been granted bail and could be released, but they simply can’t afford to pay. In most cases, the bail amounts to $2,500 or less. As a result of their inability to pay, the report asserts that low-risk inmates are held and the state penal system remains overcrowded, creating a paradox that sees high-risk inmates with better financial resources being released earlier.
County jails are generally operated by local authorities, including sheriff’s departments and county government officials. Most county jails detain prisoners with a sentence of one year or less. Prisons are operated by each state’s department of corrections and incarcerate inmates with a sentence of a year or longer.
“I think more options to be released should be available to people being held in the county jails,” said Tracey Syphax. Syphax, 50, is a Trenton area businessman who spent several years in state prison on various drug charges before turning his life around. Syphax also has a son who has spent time in county jail and state prison.
To view the complete Drug Policy Alliance report, please visit www.drugpolicy.org.