People on Probation & Parole in NJ Can Vote
Understanding A5283 Impacts on Voting Rights
A revolutionary new bill affects New Jersey residents who are on parole or probation. As part of his Second Chance Agenda, Governor Phil Murphey signed A5823 on December 18, 2019 to restore voting rights to residents who are on parole or probation. Effective March 17, 2020, this bill can impact over 80,000 NJ citizens.
Only 16 other states allowed probationers and parolees to vote, and New Jersey is finally one of them.
This is a big deal because prior to this bill, NJ probationers and parolees could not participate in an essential part of our democracy. Although they were released from prison, they couldn’t exercise their 26th Amendment right to vote. As a result, thousands of voices were silenced due to their prison release status. But not anymore.
What Is Probation and Parole?
Probation and parole are similar in that they permit a person’s release into their community under close supervision. They’re essentially alternatives to incarceration.
However, probation is integrated into a person’s initial sentence whereas parole is granted after a prisoner serves a certain amount of time behind bars. In New Jersey, a person must serve one-third of their sentence before being considered for parole. However, parole eligibility does not guarantee anything. The following describes the steps in the parole process:
- Initial Hearing: The hearing officer examines reports on the inmate’s criminal history such as their current offense, social, physical, educational and psychological progress, and an objective social and psychological risk and needs assessment.
- Panel Hearing: The Board panel decides whether to grant or deny parole.
- Recission Hearing: If the Parole Board learns that the inmate has committed a new institutional infraction, or information not examined during the panel hearing, the they may require a rescission hearing to determine whether to rescind, or reverse, their decision to grant parole.
Revocation Process: If a parole officer has probable cause to believe an offender didn’t
follow their supervision conditions, the officer may arrest the parolee
and make them await a probable cause hearing.
- Probable Cause Hearing: Determines if there is probable cause to believe the offender violated a condition of supervision and whether it’s best to revoke their parole status.
- Revocation Hearing: If the Hearing Officer believes it’s best to revoke an offender’s parole privilege, they’ll conduct a revocation hearing to determine whether there is clear and convincing evidence to believe the offender seriously and/or persistently violated a condition of their supervision and whether revocation is best.
With probation, a judge can order a person to serve minimal prison time before being allowed probation or get probation instead of prison time. Conditions of probation require the defendant to comply with certain rules including, but not limited to:
- They cannot leave the judicial district without the permission of the court or probation officer.
- They shall report to the probation officer in a manner and frequency directed by the court or probation officer.
- They shall answer truthfully all inquiries by the probation officer and follow the instructions of the probation officer.
- They shall support his or her dependents and meet other family responsibilities.
- They shall work regularly at a lawful occupation unless excused by the probation officer for schooling, training, or other acceptable reasons.
- They shall notify the probation officer at least 10 days prior to any change in residence or employment.
- They shall notify the probation officer within 72 hours of being arrested or questioned by a law enforcement officer.
Contact Our Team
Our lawyers served as prosecutors and now work as criminal law specialists helping good people avoid bad situations. We work tirelessly to help clients secure alternatives to prison, such as parole and probation, to name a couple. As a result, clients can exercise their right to vote under this transformative recent New Jersey bill.
Don’t hesitate to contact our team at (201) 574-7919 to get started on your defense.