By David Madden

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey governor Chris Christie today pleaded with legislators in a special session to pass a bail reform package immediately.

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The issue, according to the governor, has been debated for 2½ years.  The result has been a bill and a proposed constitutional amendment — subject to voter approval — that would allow judges to keep violent offenders behind bars without bail while making bail easier for low-income people charged with nonviolent crimes.

That amendment needs to move by Monday to get on the November ballot, but is bottled up in the Assembly. So the governor asked lawmakers to do what’s right.

“I cannot force anyone in the legislature to vote. I hope it’s your sense of fairness and justice that moves you to vote,” Christie said.

Leaders in the Assembly have said the package needs more work. Christie said he isn’t buying that anymore:

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“There comes a moment when it’s time to act. And I believe that I’ve been patient. And two and a half years of conversation and discussion, it seems to me, is sufficient.”

But Assembly speaker Vincent Prieto says his members need some critical questions answered:

“There’s the speedy trial component.  How are we going to pay for this?  How is the risk assessment piece of it going to be done?”

Prieto isn’t calling for an immediate vote but won’t rule out a vote before Monday’s deadline.


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