Acting New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced a new directive last week aimed at reducing the amount of time police officers spend on low-level municipal bench warrants.
Police will no longer be arresting residents with outstanding bench warrants in cases where the bail amount is set at $500 or less, according to NJ Spotlight.
A bench warrant is issued when an individual fails to show up for a court date or otherwise “violates the rules of the court.”
Platkin issued a statement that read, “Residents will no longer be subjected to unnecessary and intrusive custodial arrests for hundreds of thousands of outstanding low-level warrants — and officers across New Jersey will avoid spending time effectuating and processing such arrests that by and large do not further public safety.”
This will allow police “to use law enforcement resources more efficiently and safely,” the statement claimed.
Under the new order, defendants will be “given notice of a new court date and released on scene.”
According to NJ.com, there is widespread support for this measure. It is backed by “the state association of police chiefs, the ACLU, black clergy and the state’s largest police unions.”
The media outlet spoke to Sayreville police chief John Zebrowski who said, “These are low-level offenses in which municipal courts routinely issue new dates. This directive allows police officers to remain in-service and on patrol by reducing the time spent encountering the public about municipal court bench warrants.”
Jeanne LoCicero, the legal director for the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, considers this “an important step in preventing unnecessary arrests and jail time, which disrupt lives, jobs and families.”
There is one major problem with this new leniency. It strips the legal system of one of its most useful tools. What incentive is there for a defendant to show up for a court date or to pay a fine if there are no consequences? Why would anyone bother to take responsibility for their actions?
As for the argument that police will no longer have to use their valuable time and resources to chase down low-level offenders, the courts, which have allotted a period of time on their schedules to hear a particular case, will be the ones whose time is wasted.
The move toward relieving offenders of accountability for their actions has become a growing trend lately, particularly in Democrat-run states.
Last year, lawmakers in deep-blue Washington state passed House Bill 1054, a package of police “reforms aimed at addressing racial disproportionality in policing,” according to The Associated Press.
One of the law’s provisions bars police from engaging in “high-speed pursuits except in very limited circumstances,” the AP reported.
Unfortunately, one of the effects of the law has been that many drivers have stopped pulling over for police officers.
A report from the Northwest News Network cites data from the Washington State Patrol that found that since January, 934 drivers have refused to stop for law enforcement.
WSP spokesman Sgt. Darren Wright told the network, “Something’s changed. People are not stopping right now. It’s happening three to five times a shift on some nights and then a couple times a week on day shift.”
In November 2020, voters in Oregon approved a measure to decriminalize the possession of limited quantities of hard drugs such as heroin, crack and methamphetamine. Offenders are given citations of no more than $100 which, according to the U.K. Daily Mail, “can be waived if the person calls a hotline for a health assessment. Yet of the 1,885 people who received tickets for personal possession in the first year, only 91 called the hotline.”
Oregon state Rep. Lily Morgan appeared on Fox News’ “Jesse Watters Primetime” on Friday night to discuss how this initiative has played out. Watters noted the number of overdoses in one district is up 520 percent.
“Overdoses are increasing and people are dying,” Morgan said. “We’re finding that nobody is getting involved in treatment,” which was the objective of this ill-conceived program.
“Just today,” Morgan told Watters, “Oregon State Police told one of my committees on Judiciary that the amount of fentanyl they’ve taken off the street in 2020 was 27,000 doses. But in 2021, it was over 482,000 doses.”
Washington state and Oregon are already suffering as a result of their misguided pursuit of equity. I don’t imagine it will work out too much better for New Jersey.
At this point, the legal system is becoming more of a suggestion system for criminals.
Small court appearances might not seem like a big deal, but if people are able to scoff and ignore one court order without major consequence, what’s to keep this attitude from permeating even further?
Passing laws and creating policies in the name of social justice is a bad idea. And it won’t end well.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.