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State v. Carroll

Decided: May 10, 1974.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
THOMAS CARROLL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Halpern, Matthews and Bischoff. The opinion of the court was delivered by Matthews, J.A.D.

Matthews

[128 NJSuper Page 235] Defendant entered guilty pleas to charges of robbery and receiving a stolen automobile. Other charges then pending against him were dismissed. He was sentenced to an indeterminate reformatory term on the robbery charge with a ten-year maximum, and also to a consecutive, indeterminate reformatory term (with a five-year maximum) on the receiving charge. The only issue raised on appeal is the alleged excessiveness of the sentences. The reason assigned for excessiveness is that consecutive reformatory sentences are not called for under the circumstances presented.

Our review of the case has given us pause to question the wisdom, if not the propriety, of consecutive reformatory sentences.

N.J.S.A. 30:4-148 provides that any male sentenced to a Youth Correctional Institution facility pursuant to N.J.S.A. 30:4-147 is to be committed for an indeterminate period not to exceed five years or the maximum sentence provided by law if such be less than five years. The reformatory sentencing alternative reflects the generally accepted view that the goal of correction is rehabilitation. In re Lewis, 11 N.J. 217, 224 (1953); State v. Horton, 45 N.J. Super. 44, 46 (App. Div. 1957).

Judge Freund, in Horton, enunciated the reason for the existence of the reformatory type of institution as follows:

Offenders * * * are sentenced to the reformatory in the hope that the associations there, being less contaminating than in State Prison, will, by suitable treatment and training, more likely foster rehabilitation. The theory is that placing the offender in a reformatory offers a better opportunity of social rehabilitation of the individual. [at 47-48]

The legality of consecutive reformatory sentences has been sustained. State v. Horton, above; State v. Prewitt, 127 N.J. Super. 560, (App. Div. 1974). In Horton this court was faced squarely with the question of the validity of consecutive, indeterminate reformatory sentences. It was concluded that such sentences were valid and no theoretical inconsistency between the consecutive sentences and the reformatory philosophy was found. Thus, it was stated:

No harmful effect need result from the practice of imposing a second reformatory sentence, since both the consecutive reformatory sentence as well as the original sentence may at any time be terminated when in the discretion of the board of managers the prisoner's conduct so warrants. [at 48]

Other authorities are in accord with this philosophy. See e.g., Annotation, "Validity, Construction and Application

of Provisions of Federal Youth Corrections Act (18 U.S.C., § 5010) Governing Sentencing and Rehabilitative Treatment of Youth Offenders," 11 A.L.R. 3d 499, § 20 (1972).

It strikes us, however, that this philosophy runs counter to the basic purpose of a reformatory as noted in Horton, above. As the recent American Bar Association study on "Sentencing Alternatives and Procedures" notes:

The function of the consecutive sentence should be similar to the function of the sentence imposed on habitual or dangerous offenders. Because of his repeated criminality the offender who has rendered himself subject to multiple sentences may pose the same type of unusual risk to the safety of the public. It would thus ...


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