We have just finished an immensely successful, if somewhat complicated, criminal justice improvement through our constitutionally, statutorily, and judicially administered reform of the cash bail system. As we have noted, this is a nationally significant reform of the early part of the criminal justice process that has and will avoid the unnecessary damage to livelihoods and families through the unfair cash bail system. (“One Year In, Bail System Not Perfect, But Much Better,” NJLJ, Jan. 15, 2018.)
Last month Gov. Christie signed three important pieces of legislation dealing with expungement, thereby implementing needed reforms at the end of the criminal justice process. These bills expand the number of people and types of offenses that are eligible for expungement, shorten the time people must wait to apply for expungement, permit several offenses occurring within a brief period to be expunged together, and move still further in the direction of shielding people from employer questions about their criminal records (“ban the box”). These reforms, of course, provide important further steps toward reintegrating those who have offended into our society for the benefit of not only them, but all of us.
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