The Appellate Division continued in relevant part: However, there is no evidence in the record to support the Board’s contention that Thomas’s lack of memory is less than genuine and, apart from the issue of recollection, the record is replete with evidence supporting his acknowledgement of responsibility of his crimes as sincere and legitimate. Psychological evaluations as far back as 1991 consistently report that Thomas accepted responsibility for his crimes even while claiming he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol and “lacked control over his actions.” Additionally, Thomas’s parole hearing testimony makes clear that Thomas accepts full responsibility for his crimes and possesses insight into his motivations for committing such horrific violent acts, namely that he was an angry, bullied, drug-addicted youth who resorted to violence to solve his problems. And now, as a fifty-year-old man who has attended programs and therapy for over thirty years, he is a different person who maintains control over his actions.
Moreover, although the Board noted, as mitigating factors, Thomas’s participation in programs and counseling, his vocational certifications, and his infraction-free status maintained throughout Thomas’s entire prison stay, it failed to address the ten positive psychological evaluations performed on Thomas between 1991 and 2003, all of which consistently reported that Thomas had “good insight” and maintained good impulse control and judgment. We conclude that the record here does not support the conclusion that recidivism is likely.
Our criticisms of the parole process are confined to the distinctive setting of this case involving “heightened review” of the constitutionality of an extremely lengthy incarceration of a juvenile offender who has been a model prisoner. Our holding should not be construed as a generalized finding that the parole process is procedurally deficient or unfair.
The last paragraph was likely included to avoid encouraging litigation that challenges the overall parole process. Inmates denied parole are highly motivated to pursue any avenue that might shorten their prison stay. Our appellate courts are already back-logged to unprecedented levels.