As law enforcement officers across New Hampshire have continued to raise concerns about bail reform, Gov. Chris Sununu is planning to gather lawmakers to review implementation measures.
“Within the next two weeks, I plan to convene a bipartisan group of legislators to find solutions to not only fix bail reform in New Hampshire, but to overhaul the system," Sununu said in a news release. "When bail reform became law last year, I pledged that we would closely monitor its implementation. It is clear that there have been some unintended consequences, and I remain committed to overhauling the system in an expedited manner.
"I agree with the many stakeholders that have called for reform, and look forward to continuing to work with them to develop a new approach," Sununu added. "We can find a solution that ensures public safety while not needlessly incarcerating someone simply because they cannot afford bail."
The passage of Senate Bill 556 in 2018 eliminated cash bail to prevent indigent suspects from being held too long in pretrial detention. Except when prosecutors could show that person posed a threat to the community, they could be released on a personal recognizance bond. However, it also brought about a number of suspects being repeatedly arrested and let go.
This year, SB 314, sponsored by state Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover, led to the creation of an official state bail commission to provide further recommendations on fixing the system.
So far, “the Governor's Office has met with superintendents of jails, lawmakers, police chiefs, city government, non-profit leaders, members of the judicial branch, the ACLU and advocates to discuss further overhauls of the bail reform system,” according to the news release.
Jeanne Hruska of the New Hampshire ACLU said in a statement that they look forward to seeing the results of the bail commission meeting, which is scheduled to take place Oct. 18.