Bill To Allow Community Service For Some Offenses
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. November 21, 2012
Some New Jersey towns say they have had trouble collecting fines for minor crimes. An Assembly committee has advanced legislation that would give municipal court judges the discretion to order community service instead.
Current law allows municipal judges to consider the community service option only after offenders fail to pay their fines.
A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Craig Coughlin would give judges the flexibility to consider a person’s financial standing before imposing a penalty.
Coughlin says some people can’t afford to pay the fines and end up spending a weekend or more in jail for minor offenses.
“We don’t have debtors prisons. We shouldn’t put people in jail for a debt. Let them go off and do something. It’s certainly a punishment, harsh requirements to be there on time to perform all the services. I think it’s a better fairer way of addressing the situation.”
Coughlin is a former prosecutor and municipal judge. He says the measure will also help courts clear a huge backlog of unpaid fines that they’ll never be able to collect.
“So let’s get rid of that. Let’s not do that. Let’s put people out and do something good. Let them clean up the community. Let them eliminate graffiti. Let them do those kind of things.”
The Assembly Judiciary Committee voted unanimously in favor of the legislation.
It’s still awaiting action in the Senate.
© 2012 WBGO News
Lavallette. May 20, 2013
Christie says rebuilt boardwalk a symbol that shore is open for business. Read More
May 20, 2013
Says legislative budget officer David Rosen is wrong. Read More
May 20, 2013
The suburbs of New York and New Jersey are becoming home to more and more of the areas poor population. Read More
New York City Hall. May 20, 2013
Closing arguments are expected Monday in the landmark federal civil rights class action suit against the NYPD over its controversial stop-and-frisk practices. Read More
May 17, 2013
Tree pollen reaches peak, grass pollen will last several more weeks. Read More