Prior Service Credits (Part 2)

by | May 28, 2020 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The three-judge panel continued in relevant part: The trial court properly imposed the mandatory periods of parole ineligibility and parole supervision at his final resentencing. His sentence did not violate NERA. Rather, defendant was not awarded proper prior service credit. Although defendant claims that his expectations were not met, allowing him to withdraw his guilty plea-which would reinstate all his original charges-will not serve to remedy this situation. Indeed, as recognized by counsel, it could result in conviction of additional crimes and a longer prison sentence. See North Carolina v. Pearce (1969) (“Long-established constitutional doctrine makes clear that . . . the guarantee against double jeopardy imposes no restrictions upon the length of a sentence imposed upon reconviction.”), overruled on other grounds by Alabama v. Smith, 490 U.S. 794 (1989). Defendant’s remedy, if any, is not in the Criminal Part. See ibid. (noting “there is no way the years he spent in prison can be returned to him”).

In a footnote, the Court held: In reaching this conclusion, the Court noted that the Report of the Study Commission on Parole (1996) “expressed its concern that the fifteen percent that remained of the original custodial term following the release of an inmate sentenced pursuant to NERA might not be an adequate deterrent to prevent the offender from returning to violent crime. It thus stressed the need for post-release monitoring and supervision.” Friedman, 209 N.J. at 119. “After this potential problem was recognized, the bill was amended to provide for mandatory fixed periods of parole supervision for NERA offenders.” Id. at 119-20.

An alternative to the conclusion of the Report of the Study Commission on Parole would be to simply abolish parole. The federal prison system requires that all inmates serve 85% of their sentences. In essence, they do not believe in parole. Abolishing parole would mean abolishing all of jobs related to parole supervision. This fact may have played in role in the Commission’s decision to allow for the indirect increase in prison sentences for those who commit new offenses during the 15% remainder of their original NERA sentences.