New Jersey Pretrial Detention Amendment, Public Question No. 1 (2014)

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Public Question No. 1
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Referred by:Legislature
Topic:Criminal trials
Status:On the ballot
2014 measures
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November 4
Public Question No. 1
Public Question No. 2
The New Jersey Pretrial Detention Amendment, Public Question No. 1 is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in New Jersey as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would provide for pretrial detention of certain criminal defendants.[1]

Text of measure

Ballot title

The language will appear on the ballot as:[2]

NJ SCR 128 2014 part 1.JPG

NJ SCR 128 2014 part 2.JPG[3]

Constitutional changes

See also: New Jersey Constitution, Article I, Paragraph 11

If approved by voters, the measure will amend Article I, Paragraph 11 of the New Jersey Constitution to read as follows with the [bracketed] text being removed and the underlined text being added:

11. No person shall, after acquittal, be tried for the same offense. All persons shall, before conviction, be [bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses when the proof is evident or presumption great] eligible for pretrial release. Pretrial release may be denied to a person if the court finds that no amount of monetary bail, non-monetary conditions of pretrial release, or combination of monetary bail and non-monetary conditions would reasonably assure the person’s appearance in court when required, or protect the safety of any other person or the community, or prevent the person from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process. It shall be lawful for the Legislature to establish by law procedures, terms, and conditions applicable to pretrial release and the denial thereof authorized under this provision.[3]


Current state law only allows judges to deny bail to persons charged with capital offenses. However, New Jersey repealed the death penalty in 2007, meaning there are no capital offenses and it is, therefore, impossible to deny a prisoner bail. However, judges still have the option of setting very high bails to attempt to prevent the release of such prisoners. Gov. Chris Christie (R) has been advocating for such an amendment since 2012.[4]



SCR 128 was primarily sponsored by Sen. Norcross in the New Jersey Senate. It was cosponsored by Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11).[5] The identical Assembly version was primarily sponsored by Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-2), Assemblyman Timothy J. Eustace (D-38) and Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak (D-1).[6]


The following state senators voted in favor of SJR 128.[5]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the New Jersey Constitution

In order for an amendment to be placed on the 2014 ballot, both chambers of the legislature must approve it by at least 60 percent by August 4, 2014. However, in order for the legislature to vote upon such a measure, it must be on their desks for at least 20 days prior to the vote.

SCR 128 was introduced on July 10, 2014. An identical Assembly measure, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 177, was introduced on July 11, 2014. The Assembly measure was later replaced with the Senate version for the final vote. It was placed on the desk of both chambers on July 11, giving it sufficient time on the desks before the votes on July 31 and August 4. SCR 128 passed the Senate with a 31 to 0 vote and the Assembly with 66 to 0. Nine senators and eight assembly members did not vote on the measure.[7]

Senate vote

July 31, 2014 Senate vote

New Jersey SCR 128 Senate vote
Approveda Yes 31 100.00%

Assembly vote

August 4, 2014 Assembly vote

New Jersey SCR 128 Assembly vote
Approveda Yes 66 100.00%

See also

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