Negotiators have reached agreement on a proposal to eliminate cash bail for most New Hampshire offenders. The plan won strong support from lawmakers but was reworked to address concerns of prosecutors and police.
Senate Bill 556 aimed to eliminate cash bail for people charged with misdemeanors so long as a judge ruled them not dangerous. In its current form, the elimination of bail with cash or conditions would only apply to Class B misdemeanors, crimes which carry no jail time.
The bill’s lead sponsor, Concord Senator Dan Feltes, says that and other changes are designed to address objections raised by law enforcement and to salvage a bill that had broad support.
“This bill reflect and agreement, a compromise, that the police chiefs agree to. This is supported by New Futures, the jail superintendents, Legal Assistance. Americans for Prosperity supports it.”
New Hampshire’s county attorneys had warned lawmakers and Governor Sununu that lack of pretrial evaluations in some parts of the state would increase the risk that some offenders who are dangerous would commit crimes while out on bail.
This rejiggered bill would create a commission to evaluate bail issues that includes law enforcement, the judiciary and bail reform advocates.
The proposal still needs to win approval by the full legislature.