This is an idea that everyone should know and understand. Many young people seem to enter into the criminal justice system yet do not comprehend the ramifications of participating in illegal criminal activities.

After an individual has completed his/her trial or has entered into a plea bargain, a sentence an individual receives has two components. The first component of a sentence is the actual amount of time the defendant must serve in prison. The second part of the sentence is the date of the parole eligibility.

In some states where there are stiff sentences for violent crimes, sentencing can be a horror story. This is what we will explore. In states like New Jersey where there is a No Early Release Act for violent crimes, the sentencing and parole requirements are steep. For example, if an individual has committed a crime carrying a 10-year sentence, the judge will issue a violator under this statute a sentence of 8 years, 6 months of jail time initially.

The second part of the 10-year sentence is parole. Parole is a “conditional sentence” which means you will have to fulfill certain legal conditions or stipulations successfully to become a free man. In the 10-year sentence noted above, an individual sentenced under No Early Release Act may be looking at a maximum of 5 years of parole depending upon the degree of the defendant’s crime.

Once you have completed your incarceration of 8 years, 6 months, the parole officials will explain to the parolee the terms a parolee must successfully complete. These are called stipulations of the parole contract. Any violation of the parole stipulation can lead to revocation of parole and a possible return to jail.

The usual stipulations for parole are:

  1. You must meet your parole officer a specific number of times per month.
  2. The parolee must submit urine samples to the parole officer
  3. Some parolees must participate either in a drug or alcohol treatment program.
  4. The parolee must not associate with individuals of ill repute.
  5. The parolee must be employed.

There may be more additional parole stipulations but the above are the usual stipulations.  All parolees must usually follow the above stipulations while on parole.

Please note that if you fail to fulfill any of the parole stipulation(s) the parole officer may violate his/her client. Once the parolee is in the custody of the court, the judge can revoke his/her parole. The judge or administrative official of the court can resentence the parolee to jail from a few months to end of the year parole sentence in jail (e.g. years remaining in parole component).

In the No Early Release Act noted above, the court could resentence you for a few months of incarceration up to five years under No Early Release Act. Let’s do the math; the original outer limits of the sentence was 10 years. The individual has done 8 years, 6 months and the parolee violated parole after two months on parole. The judge could sentence the parole for the remaining of the parole sentence (4 years, 10 months). If you added these figures together the parolee would have served 13 years, 6 months of incarceration for an original sentence of 10 years. While this sentence is not the norm, this is a real possibility.

The genuine problem with parole is that is conditioned upon and set up to prevent the parolee from committing another crime. Parole also is a guided assistance by the state to aid the parolee’s adjustment to life outside of prison. This is why the stipulations are in place in writing so that all parties understand what each other must do to effect a successful rehabilitation. While the average parole stipulations and sentence are usually shorter than the scenario noted above, you still have the same outcome. If you violate parole, the judge will determine when and if you will see the streets again.

Hopefully, this short summary will aid you in deciding whether the commission of crime is worth the problems that come with the criminal system ruining your life and your destiny.

Please ponder this matter seriously because your life matters.

The Crawford Chronicles

Warren Crawford, Esq., Attorney at Law, has over 25 years of experience working for the State of New Jersey Department of Corrections. Make sure you read the Crawford Chronicles, published the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 11:00 AM, EST at www.urbansocialitesnj.com. It might save your life – because your life matters!

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