Parole Conditions (Part 1)

by | Mar 18, 2024 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

On August 3, 2023, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided the case of Leander Williams v. New Jersey State Parole Board. The principal issue concerned whether the parole board could mandate participation in adult residential treatment program for inmates paroled under the Earn Your Way Out Act.

Justice Fasciale wrote for a unanimous Court in relevant part: In this appeal, the legal question is whether the New Jersey State Parole Board may impose a condition that mandates enrollment at a residential treatment program (RTP) for adult inmates who are entitled to administrative parole release under the Earn Your Way Out Act (EYWO Act), N.J.S.A. 30:4-123.55b to .55f. Leander Williams pled guilty to non-violent third- and fourth-degree drug offenses. His primary parole eligibility date was approximately eight months after the EYWO Act became effective. During his prison sentence, Williams successfully completed multiple alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs, including an 87-day Alcoholics Anonymous program and a residential program in the Albert M. “Bo” Robinson Assessment and Treatment Center (Bo Robinson) for 187 days. After the Bo Robinson program and while remaining in the custody of the Department of Corrections, Williams resided at the Harbor Residential Community Release Program for 90 days for further rehabilitation. Approximately one month before his primary parole eligibility date, a panel of the Parole Board certified that Williams met the “criteria for administrative parole release” under the EYWO Act, which entitled him to automatic administrative parole release.

The panel imposed 21 general parole conditions and the “special” condition that Williams participate in an RTP for a minimum term of 180 days. Williams administratively appealed to the Parole Board, arguing that N.J.S.A. 30:4-123.59 precluded the panel from requiring an RTP as a condition of his administrative parole release under the EYWO Act. The panel upheld the imposition of residential treatment but recommended that the Board reduce his mandated “term” of 180 days to 90 days. The Parole Board issued its final agency decision and upheld the requirement that Williams reside at the RTP, determining that N.J.S.A. 30:4-123.59(b)(1)(a) authorized the panel to impose an RTP and that N.J.S.A. 30:4-123.59(d) was “inapplicable.” Williams appealed, and the Appellate Division affirmed the Parole Board’s determination. The Court granted certification.

Participation in the program at issue was presumably stayed pending the result of the instant appeals. Otherwise, the parolee would have likely completed the program before this decision issued and the case would be moot.