How does the parole system work in New Jersey?
Our criminal defense law firm represents persons charged with a wide variety of criminal offenses in New Jersey which includes Camden, Gloucester, Burlington, Atlantic, and Cape May Counties. These criminal offenses range from illegal drugs and narcotics to illegal firearms and guns (Graves Act Crimes.) During any client consultation we always discuss the possible consequences of a criminal conviction, but we obviously understand that client’s come to our firm in order to eliminate, if not minimize, the possibility of those consequences. During this initial consultation for those who come to us charged with offenses in New Jersey, we explain the following:
- Maximum penalties
- Mandatory minimum penalties
- Parole eligibility
- Parole ineligibility
- Jail credits
- State vs. county prison
In New Jersey, parole eligibility of state prison inmates sentenced under Title 2C, is covered under NJSA 30:4-123.51. This statute states that any adult inmate, sentenced to a specific term in a New Jersey state prison, is eligible for parole after serving any judicial or statutory mandatory minimum sentence or 1/3 of the sentence imposed, minus time for good behavior, work, and other institutional assignments (programs). Further, under this statute, no New Jersey inmate is eligible for parole until he or she has served at least 9 months of his aggregate sentence.
Factors to Consider To Calculate Parole Eligibility in the Garden State
To calculate a person’s parole eligibility it’s important to keep in mind several factors. These factors are as follows:
- Every custodial term has a separate parole eligibility date. The New Jersey parole board is required to calculate this eligibility date pursuant to NJSA 30:123-51(h).
- A parole eligibility date on a concurrent sentence starts on the effective date that the sentence is imposed.
- Commutation credits pursuant to NJSA 30:4-123.51(a) and NJSA 30:4-140 are subtracted from the parole eligibility date along with county jail credits (time served in custody from the date of arrest to the date of sentencing). By way of example, if a person is sentences to a custodial term of 10 years and serves 30 days in the county jail his parole eligibility date would be 3 years and 4 months from the date of sentence minus the 30 days.
- No state prison inmate who is serving a 2C sentence for a specific term of years can serve less than 9 months of his aggregate sentence. No county inmate serving a 2C sentence can serve less than 60 days of his aggregate sentence before release on parole. These calculations include any jail credits.
- Work credits are earned by inmates at a rate of 1 work credit for every 5 days work. Minimum security credits are earned at a rate of 3 credits per month during the first 12 months on minimum security status and 5 credits per month thereafter.
- If a person is sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence (See Graves Act defenses), computation credits, work credits, and minimum custody credits cannot reduce the sentence lower than the mandatory minimum.
What terms do you need to understand in the New Jersey Parole System
If you’re charged with a criminal offense in New Jersey you will often hear the following terms, which are an important part of any consultation with any criminal defense lawyer:
- Flat parole eligibility date (PED)—the eligibility term (1/3 of the maximum, the mandatory minimum, or 25 years in the case of a life sentence) which is added to the effective date of sentence less any jail credits awarded pursuant to Rule 3:21-8.
- Book parole eligibility—the flat PED minus any commutation credits pursuant to NJSA 30:4-140.
- Actual PED—actual parole eligibility date is the Book PED minus credits earned for work and other institutional programs (minimum custody) pursuant to NJSA 30:4-92.
Here are some examples!
Here are some examples which can help anyone facing either a state or county prison term in New Jersey for a criminal offense:
Example 1: State Prison Example
A person convicted of a 2C state prison sentence (no mandatory minimum term-1/3 of the maximum less jail credits, less commutation credits, and less work and minimum custody credits.
- Date of sentence—June 10, 2017
- Term—10 years
- Jail credits—61 days
- Work credits—26 days
- Minimum credits—9 days
You would calculate this person’s sentence starting on June 10, 2017, and add 1/3 of the maximum sentence to this date, which would give us 3 years and 4 months or October 10, 2020. From this date we would subtract jail credit so his flat PED would be August 10, 2020 (61 days). This person would receive 268 days of commutation credits, which is calculated on the 3 years 2 months of time that he’s actually served and this would give us a Book PED date of November 15, 2019. From this date we would subtract any work credits and any minimum credits and this would give the actual parole eligibility date.
Example 2: County Sentence
A county jail sentence—1/3 of the maximum less jail credits, less commutation credits, less work credits, and less minimum credits, or 60 days less jail credits, whichever is greater.
In this example the date of sentence is June 10, 2017, and the person is sentenced to a term of 240 days in county jail. To this date you would add 1/3 of the maximum sentence, which is 80 days. His minimum parole eligibility date would be August 29, 2017; from this date we would subtract any jail credits and commutation credits for any time that he’s actually served in jail at his minimum date, which is 2 months 5 days (80 days less 15 days jail credit). This person’s Book PED date would be August 3, 2017.
For more great information on criminal defense in New Jersey, keep reading this blog
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