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Woods v. New Jersey State Parole Board

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

August 29, 2013

PERCY WOODS, Appellant,
v.
NEW JERSEY STATE PAROLE BOARD, Respondent.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted August 14, 2013

On appeal from New Jersey State Parole Board.

Percy Woods, appellant pro se.

John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Lisa A. Puglisi, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Shirley P. Dickstein, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Before Judges Koblitz and Accurso.

PER CURIAM

Percy Woods appeals from a February 22, 2012 final decision of the State Parole Board (Board) that denied his parole request and established a sixty-month future eligibility term (FET). We affirm.

On July 14, 1997, following a trial by jury, Woods was sentenced to an aggregate term of thirty years with a mandatory minimum of fifteen years on charges of second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2, two counts of first-degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1, second-degree burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2, second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) and third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b). According to a pre-sentence investigation, defendant was one of four individuals who robbed two people at gunpoint.

Woods, who was twenty-one years old at the time of sentencing, had a prior extensive and serious juvenile record. While in prison, he has committed thirteen disciplinary infractions. Of those, nine were serious asterisk offenses[1]including six assaults, one infraction for conduct which disrupts the security or orderly running of a correctional facility, one infraction for misuse or possession of unauthorized electronic equipment and one infraction for use of prohibited substances. He was also found to have committed three infractions for refusing to obey an order and one for unauthorized physical contact.

On July 18, 2011, a two-member Board panel denied parole and referred the case to a three-member panel for the establishment of an FET that could be in excess of administrative guidelines.[2] The two-member panel determined that a strong likelihood existed that Woods will commit a new crime if released on parole based on the following factors: a prior extensive, repetitive and increasingly more serious juvenile record; a sentence currently being served for multi-crime convictions; prior community supervision and incarceration, which did not deter criminal activity; numerous institutional infractions; and insufficient problem resolution as demonstrated by Woods' minimization of his prior criminal conduct. In mitigation, the two-member panel found that Woods had attempted to enroll in programs, but was not admitted.

The three-member Board panel set a sixty-month FET, finding that the presumptive time of twenty-three months (plus or minus nine months) was clearly inappropriate. The three-member panel determined that "it is clear that [Woods] continue[s] to remain a substantial threat to public safety." The decision of the three-member panel mentioned in detail the same factors as the two-member panel. Additionally, the October 12, 2011 decision reviewed the facts and circumstances of the crimes for which Woods was sentenced and his lack of insight into his violent behavior as evidenced in his Board panel hearing. The three-member panel also considered in mitigation the various programs Woods had completed and was waiting to participate in, as well as his own letter of mitigation.

The final decision of the Board affirmed, but

amended the Notice of Decision to include "participation in institutional programs and commutation time restored" as mitigating factors. . . . The full Board [found] that [Woods'] program participation was considered by the three member Panel when making their determination to establish a sixty (60) month future eligibility term, as evidenced by the notation of [his] program participation in the narrative ...

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