On September 26, 2017, a three-judge appellate panel decided the case of J.S. v. New Jersey State Parole Board. The principle issue before the Court was whether the Parole Board acted arbitrarily when it denied a community supervision for life sex offender’s “Petition for International Parole Transfer” to move to Sweden without giving any consideration as to whether appropriate supervision could continue following the move.
The Court held in relevant part that when J.S. committed the offense, the statute provided that a “person sentenced to a term of community supervision for life may petition the Superior Court for release from community supervision.” The court could grant the application “only upon proof that the person has not committed a crime for fifteen years since last conviction or release from incarceration, whichever is later, and that person is not likely to pose a threat to the safety of others if released from supervision.”
The Board treated J.S’s petition as if he were asking to terminate CSL. We agree with the Board that CSL may be terminated only upon application to the Superior Court and not by the Board. However, we also agree with J.S. that his petition was to transfer supervision based on a proposed change in residence and not to terminate CSL.
The Board’s decision assumed that because J.S. requested to reside in Sweden, he would be residing there “without any ability of any supervision or law enforcement authority to monitor his compliance with the conditions of CSL in contravention of the statute” that requires supervision for at least fifteen years. However, the level of actual supervision to which J.S. is subject is unclear, including the frequency in which he is required to report to or meet with a parole officer, to take a polygraph or the means utilized to ensure his compliance with the conditions of his CSL.
The Board likely figured that if it denied J.S.’s application without a relevant analysis, there was a good chance he would not invest the necessary time and/or money involved with an appeal to the Appellate Division. The worst-case scenario for the Board is that they can continue to appear tough on crime and can blame the courts for any ill-effects of J.S.’s parole supervision potentially being transferred to the Swedish authorities.