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Akinola v. New Jersey State Parole Board

December 12, 2008

KOLE AKINOLA, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY STATE PAROLE BOARD, RESPONDENT.



On appeal from the New Jersey State Parole Board.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 21, 2008

Before Judges Collester and Grall.

Kole Akinola, an inmate at Mid-State Correctional Facility in Wrightstown, appeals from a final decision of the State Parole Board denying parole and establishing a future eligibility term (FET) of eighteen months.*fn1 Because the Board's decision is supported by sufficient credible evidence in the record and consistent with controlling legal standards, we affirm and provide only a brief discussion of the issues raised on this appeal. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(D).

Akinola is serving a ten-year term of incarceration with a three-year term on parole ineligibility imposed as a consequence of his plea of guilty to robbery; he beat the victim of that crime about the head with a hammer and a broken bottle because he would not return money Akinola paid for a used car that broke down. When he was sentenced for robbery, Akinola was on supervised release as a consequence of his conviction for a federal offense.

Akinola is also serving concurrent sentences for drug crimes, theft by deception and attempted theft by deception. He committed those thefts while released on bail. His criminal record also includes a municipal court conviction, a conditional discharge and at least one bench warrant issued as a consequence of his failure to appear in court.

Akinola's first application for parole was denied in November 2004. His twenty-three-month FET expired on February 25, 2007. He sought parole so that he could comply with an immigration detainer; he had no plan for parole other than living with his brother and attempting to find work using his skill and experience as a forklift operator or data entry clerk. In a letter to the panel, Akinola explained that being unavailable to assist his mother during her three-year struggle with cancer taught him that crime did not pay and motivated him to avoid future crimes.

Akinola made progress while incarcerated. Although he had lost commutation credits for prior institutional infractions, he had not had an infraction for three years and his commutation time had been restored. He had participated in institutional programs and made requests for admission to additional programs that the institution had not been able to accommodate. His adjustment to prison life was rated as "average" and his risk of recidivism, as measured by the Board's risk assessment instrument and psychologist, was "moderate" and "medium." There is nothing in Akinola's confidential materials indicative of risk apart from inferences about his anti-social characteristics that the psychologist drew based on his crimes and admitted use of marijuana and alcohol prior to his incarceration.*fn2

During his interview with a two-member panel of the Board, Akinola acknowledged that he had no excuse for what he did to the victim of his robbery, but he described his conduct as a "situation that got out of hand." When pressed he explained, "[w]e got into a conflict over [the car] which turned into a fight. I assaulted him and I took my money back. [I]nstead of going to the authorities with it, I got into a confrontation with him. I assaulted him and I took my money."

Akinola is entitled to release unless the preponderance of evidence shows "that [he] failed to cooperate in his... rehabilitation or that there is a reasonable expectation that [he] will violate conditions of parole" if released now.

N.J.S.A. 30:4-123.53(a). The Board concluded that the preponderance of the evidence gave rise to "a reasonable expectation" that Akinola would violate the conditions of parole.

The following are among the factors the Board considers in deciding to ...


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