Sununu signs bill to keep low level offenders who can’t afford bail out of jail 

Associated Press
Published: 7/3/2018 12:08:16 PM

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has signed a bill aimed at preventing low-risk offenders from being held behind bars just because they can’t afford bail.

Sununu said in a statement Monday that in a system where “innocent until proven guilty” is the ultimate maxim, a person who is charged, but not yet convicted of a minor crime should not be sent to prison merely because he or she lacks the financial ability to post bail.

The state’s 10 county attorneys had argued the measure would put public safety at risk, but Sununu said he has confidence that courts will be able to apply the bill in a manner that achieves its objectives and protects public safety.

Devon Chaffee, executive director of ACLU-NH, applauded the governor and legislature for passing the law.

“This achievement builds on the success of debtor’s prison reform last year in further preventing the incarceration of people simply because they are poor,” Chaffee said. “Bail reform is a critical facet of criminal justice reform, as we know that just three days of pre-trial incarceration substantially increases a person’s chances of conviction, receiving a jail sentence, and a longer-term sentence. We look forward to working with the Governor and the legislature to continue the momentum on comprehensive criminal justice reform.”

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