By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New Jersey will implement bail system reforms in January that supporters say will “promote racial justice,” in part, by hiring more judges. Another component includes moving from setting cash bail as a condition of release to a risk-based system.

Senate President Steve Sweeney believes hiring 20 new judges will help make the reforms work.

“We’re keeping people in jail because they’re poor,” Sweeney said.

He says 80 of 340 inmates in his district county jail are poor, each of whom is housed at $100 a day.

‘The system is so ass backwards,” Sweeney said, “it puts someone in jail because they can’t afford to get the hell out.”

Supporters say the new practices will no longer keep non-violent offenders in jail just because they can’t afford to post bail, and the constitutional amendments will allow the courts to keep dangerous defendants behind bars, if they pose a threat. In Sweeney’s words, “poor people shouldn’t be stuck in jail, and bad people shouldn’t get out on bail.”

“State budget appropriates $9.3 million as a result of a discussion with the Chief Justice,” Sweeney said. “The Chief has spoken to the Speaker, he’s spoken to me, he’s spoken to the Governor, but again, they gotta be placed where the case loads or the demands are gonna be.”

Judge Glenn Grant, acting administrative director of the court says the added judges will assist the criminal justice system in meeting constraints of the speedy trial initiative. He is confident that they’ll be able to do a risk-assessment within the required 48-hour time frame.

“Being detained, even for a few days, can have dramatic effects, particularly when you’re talking about low-income individuals.”

The president of NAACP New Jersey, Richard Smith says the reforms “promote racial justice.”