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NJ Parole - How does it work?

Division of Release

The State Parole Board’s Division of Release has offices in each of New Jersey’s State correctional facilities. The primary duty of the Division of Release is to evaluate and assess each of New Jersey’s adult incarcerated inmates, and determine their eligibility and appropriateness for parole release.Parole counselors in the Division of Release facilitate the process by which parole decisions are made regarding inmates. Their main duty is to monitor each inmate’s eligibility for parole consideration under New Jersey law, and ensure each case is processed in a timely manner. Parole Counselors make sure inmates understand the parole process, and that all necessary documents and information are in place to allow parole hearings to take place.

Under New Jersey law, an inmate becomes eligible for parole consideration after serving one-third of his or her prison sentence, with the exception of cases in which the inmate was sentenced to a period of parole ineligibility.

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 30:4-123.55b, et seq., known as the “Earn Your Way Out Act,” effective February 1, 2021, eligible inmates are entitled to administrative parole release (automatic parole) at the time of primary or subsequent parole eligibility provided thatThe inmate has not been previously convicted of, or is currently serving a sentence imposed for any exclusionary crime enumerated in:

N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2(b) – Registration Law for Sex Offenders

.NJ.S.A. 2C:43-7.2 – “No Early Release Act”

N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c) or (g) – “Graves Act”

N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.26 – “Sexually Violent Predator Act”

The inmate has not committed any serious disciplinary infraction within the previous two years from his/her parole eligibility date.

The inmate has completed relevant rehabilitation programs as determined by DOC and SPB.

A Hearing Officer in the Division of Release will review an inmate’s case at an initial hearing to determine if the inmate has met the aforementioned criteria.  If the Hearing Officer determines that the inmate is eligible, the Hearing Officer will recommend the case be reviewed by Board Members to confirm eligibility for administrative parole release and certify administrative parole release.  Inmates that meet the criteria for administrative parole release do not require a Board Panel hearing (see below).

Inmates that do not meet the criteria for administrative parole release will have an initial hearing and Board Panel hearing conducted in their case. 

During the initial hearing, Hearing Officers in the Division of Release conduct a preliminary review of the inmate’s appropriateness for parole release. The Hearing Officer reviews professional reports concerning the inmate’s criminal history including the current offense, the inmate’s social, physical, educational and psychological progress, and an objective risk and needs assessment. The Hearing Officer then summarizes the case for review by the Board Members at a subsequent Board Panel hearing.The next step in the process is the Board Panel hearing where the inmate appears before a panel of two Board Members who will decide whether to grant or deny parole.For cases in which the crime was committed before August 19, 1997, the Parole Act requires that an adult inmate shall be paroled unless the Board Panel determines that there is a substantial likelihood the inmate will commit a new crime if released.

For cases in which the crime was committed on or after August 19, 1997, the Parole Act requires that an adult inmate shall be paroled unless the Board Panel determines the inmate has failed to cooperate in his or her own rehabilitation, or that there is a reasonable expectation the inmate will violate conditions of parole if released.

Crime victims may present testimony during a confidential hearing, or may submit their comments in writing. All victim input is kept confidential. The inmate is not informed as to whether any victim chose to provide spoken or written testimony. 

The Board Panel considers all relevant factors and evidence, including evidence and testimony provided by the inmate. If the Board Panel determines to deny parole, the Panel will establish a Future Eligibility Term (FET). The FET establishes the length of time that must be served before the inmate may again become eligible for parole consideration, and the initiation of the parole hearing process once again.

If the Board Panel determines to grant parole, the Panel may establish additional special conditions to which a parolee must comply, which are in addition to the general conditions required for all parolees. Such additional conditions may include a requirement that the parolee submit to random drug tests or undergo substance abuse counseling.

The Board Panel may also refer the parolee to the State Parole Board's Division of Community Programs for assignment to a specific residential community program.

Prior to the parole release date, the State Parole Board's parole counselors or parole officers will review the conditions of parole with the inmate, and create a discharge plan for the inmate's release to supervision. In addition, the Prosecutor Notification Unit within the Division of Release notifies the County Prosecutor of the parole release date established in the case of each inmate.

The Division of Release is also responsible for conducting rescission hearings for inmates who have been approved for parole release but have not yet been released from incarceration. Rescission hearings may be initiated if the State Parole Board receives new information, such as the inmate’s commission of an institutional infraction, prior to the inmate's parole release date. Rescission hearings are conducted by a Hearing Officer and the report prepared by the Hearing Officer is reviewed by a panel of two Board Members who determine whether good cause exists to rescind the grant of parole.

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