Without proper guidance an individual who should be paroled may end up serving a longer sentence. Too often individuals expect that their initial eligibility date is the date they will be released and to the grave disappointment of the individual and his/her family they unexpectedly learn that they have received a “hit” and face a new “Future Eligibility Term.”
While the Parole Board is required to consider numerous factors under the law, it frequently fails to document the most important information that is favorable to support release on parole. The law requires the Parole Board to consider the following information:
§ 10A:71-3.11 Factors considered at parole hearings; adult inmates
(a) Parole decisions shall be based on the aggregate of all pertinent factors, including material supplied by the inmate and reports and material which may be submitted by any persons or agencies which have knowledge of the inmate.
(b) The hearing officer, Board panel or Board shall consider the following factors and, in addition, may consider any other factors deemed relevant:
1. Commission of an offense while incarcerated.
2. Commission of serious disciplinary infractions.
3. Nature and pattern of previous convictions.
4. Adjustment to previous probation, parole and incarceration.
5. Facts and circumstances of the offense.
6. Aggravating and mitigating factors surrounding the offense.
7. Pattern of less serious disciplinary infractions.
8. Participation in institutional programs which could have led to the improvement of problems diagnosed at admission or during incarceration. This includes, but is not limited to, participation in substance abuse programs, academic or vocational education programs, work assignments that provide on-the-job training and individual or group counseling.
9. Statements by institutional staff, with supporting documentation, that the inmate is likely to commit a crime if released; that the inmate has failed to cooperate in his or her own rehabilitation; or that there is a reasonable expectation that the inmate will violate conditions of parole.
10. Documented pattern or relationships with institutional staff or inmates.
11. Documented changes in attitude toward self or others.
12. Documentation reflecting personal goals, personal strengths or motivation for law-abiding behavior.
13. Mental and emotional health.
14. Parole plans and the investigation thereof.
15. Status of family or marital relationships at the time of eligibility.
16. Availability of community resources or support services for inmates who have a demonstrated need for same.
17. Statements by the inmate reflecting on the likelihood that he or she will commit another crime; the failure to cooperate in his or her own rehabilitation; or the reasonable expectation that he or she will violate conditions of parole.
18. History of employment, education and military service.
19. Family and marital history.
20. Statement by the court reflecting the reasons for the sentence imposed.
21. Statements or evidence presented by the appropriate prosecutor's office, the Office of the Attorney General, or any other criminal justice agency.
22. Statement or testimony of any victim or the nearest relative(s) of a murder/manslaughter victim.
23. The results of the objective risk assessment instrument.
(c) Any detainers shall be noted by the hearing officer, Board panel or Board and shall not be grounds for denial of parole.
The record is everything, if an individual wishes to survive a parole denial and prevail in the Appellate Division a compelling record must be presented to the Parole Board, one that the Appellate Division may base a reversal of a Board’s decision. New Jersey State Parole Board v. Cestari, 224 N.J.Super. 534, 543-544 (App. Div. 1988), certif. denied 111 N.J. 649 (1988); Bailiff v. New Jersey State Parole Bd., No. A-3127-11T2, 2014 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 95 (App. Div. Jan. 16, 2014) ; Melvins v. New Jersey State Parole Bd., No. A-1761-08, 2010 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1948 (App. Div. Aug. 12, 2010); Klingebiel v. New Jersey State Parole Board, No. A-5341-04, 2008 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 3018 (N.J. App. Div. Aug. 11, 2008); K.P v. New Jersey State Parole Board, No. A-1470-01, 2002 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1 (N.J. App. Div. Apr. 26, 2002).
It is up to the individual to make sure that a proper record is completed upon which the Parole Board will make its determination. All too often the record submitted, if any, by an individual is woefully inadequate, leaving the Parole Board to make its decision based on limited and sometimes incomplete and/or inaccurate information. Proper preparation of the individual and record before the initial hearing and before the individual appears for Panel Hearing before Board Members is critical. Once the Panel Hearings are concluded, the record is set, and Administrative Appeal to the Full Board and subsequent appeal to the New Jersey Superior Court becomes problematic. A limited record may make an otherwise successful parole application or a challenge to a parole denial impossible.
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