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Willie Williams v. New Jersey State Parole Board

February 2, 2011

WILLIE WILLIAMS, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY STATE PAROLE BOARD, RESPONDENT.



On appeal from a Final Administrative Decision of the New Jersey State Parole Board.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 8, 2010 - Decided Before Judges R. B. Coleman and Lihotz.

Appellant Willie Williams, an inmate confined in South Woods State Prison, Bridgeton, appeals the September 30, 2009 final decision of the State Parole Board (the Board), which affirmed a three-member Board panel's decision denying parole and establishing a sixty-month future eligibility term (FET). We affirm.

Appellant was first incarcerated in 1975 as a result of his conviction for a series of bank robberies. He was sentenced to an aggregate term of incarceration of twenty-five to thirty-four years. On March 14, 1981, while incarcerated at New Jersey State Prison, appellant stabbed a fellow inmate, who died from the injuries. For that offense, appellant was convicted and sentenced to a term of twenty-five years to life, to be served consecutively with his prior sentence.

Appellant was denied parole when he first became eligible on August 7, 2008. A two-member Board panel considered evidence contained in appellant's "Statement of Mitigation," which included his participation in and completion of various rehabilitation programs. It also considered appellant's criminal history, the increasing seriousness of his criminal offenses, the multiple-crime nature resulting in his current incarceration, numerous institutional infractions for which he was disciplined, his tendency to minimize his conduct and lack of insight into his violent behavior, and the commission of a serious offense while incarcerated, concluding there was a substantial likelihood appellant would commit a new crime if released.

Notice of this decision was sent to appellant, N.J.A.C. 10A:71-3.18(f), and he was informed that the determination of an FET was referred to a three-member Board panel, which reviewed his case. A three-member Board panel set forth its detailed reasons for imposing an FET, which was outside the administrative guidelines. In reaching its decision, governed by N.J.S.A. 30:4-123.53(a)*fn1 , the panel concluded appellant had not achieved the requisite rehabilitative progress necessary for parole, noting: appellant's criminal offenses demonstrated a lack of regard for societal rules and mores; his criminal behavior was not curbed by probation as he then committed a series of felonies; moreover, his maladaptive behavior had not been deterred by incarceration as he committed murder while in prison; his lack of institutional adjustment was revealed by the commission of three asterisk and seventeen non-asterisk infractions, the last of which occurred in 1994; and he had not developed problem resolution skills, lacked insight into the motivations for his violent behavior, minimized his maladaptive behavior and had not taken responsibility for his criminal acts.

In its review, the panel relied on a confidential professional report, which included confidential pre-sentence, medical and psychological reports. Further, the panel considered as mitigating factors appellant's participation in various modules for anger management, behavior modification, employment skills and adjustment upon release; average housing and work reports; and appellant's letter of mitigation, wherein appellant expressed his view of his rehabilitation.

The three-member panel concluded the schedule of presumptive future parole eligibility dates, suggesting imposition of a twenty-seven month FET, was "clearly inappropriate due to [appellant's] lack of satisfactory progress in reducing the likelihood of future criminal behavior." N.J.A.C. 10A:71-3.21. Finding appellant "continued to remain a substantial threat to public safety," the panel set an FET at sixty-months.

Appellant appealed and the matter was reviewed by the full Board. On September 30, 2009, after addressing appellant's challenges to the panel's decision, the Board affirmed the denial of parole and establishment of a sixty-month FET in a written determination. This appeal ensued.

Appellant reasserts the arguments he presented before the Board. Before us appellant presents the following arguments for our consideration:

POINT I

BY IGNORING RELEVANT EVIDENCE, THAT APPELLANT ADMITTED HIS GUILT AND REHABILITATED HIMSELF, THE PAROLE BOARD'S REASONS FOR DENYING HIM PAROLE ARE ARBITRARY IN VIOLATION OF THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE I, ...


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