Hello. I am writing to you today to bring to light a plethora of civil rights violations that are taking place in New Jersey by Parole and Probation, and they’re getting away with it constantly. Please allow me to explain below, and then decide if you would like to make this information public.
Unfortunately, one of the most detested group of individuals in this state are convicted sex offenders. They are the lowest of the lowest, and are constantly overlooked. However, these people are humans, just like you and me, and they deserve the same rights that we all enjoy. In 1995 Megan’s Law was signed into effect, and a part of that legislation involved the creation of Community Supervision for Life (CSL), which was applied to certain sex offenders who committed certain crimes. When the legislation was written, CSL was not meant to be parole. It was a form of supervision that would start after the offender finished his/her prison term, and a special division in parole is responsible for that supervision. Some of these CSL conditions include prohibitions on where the offender can live, work, who they can interact with, restrict travel out of state, etc. However, if an offender violates one of these conditions, then they are charged with a 4th degree crime of “Violation of Community Supervision for Life” and afforded all the due process rights of any other civilian, i.e. the right to bail, the right to a trial by jury, and the right to a lawyer. This shows how CSL is different from parole. A person on parole, who is considered a “non-custodial inmate”, and who violates his/her conditions has no right to due process and is immediately placed in jail whereby the parole board decides whether they should be returned to prison to continue their prison term. To make it clear, an inmate who is in jail is known as a “custodial inmate”, i.e. in the custody of the Department of Corrections.
However, CSL began to cause issues because these offenders were not parolees and therefore could not just be returned to prison, but had to be charged with a whole new crime of the 4th degree, which could carry a maximum of 18 months in prison. This was clogging up the judicial system because each violation became a new charge and a new bail and a new trial by jury. So NJ legislation decided to pass, in 2004, what is now known as Parole Supervision for Life (PSL) for sex offenders. With this new legislation, any sex offender convicted after 2004 was now placed on PSL which begins at the end of their prison term. PSL is more akin to real parole, because a violation results in immediate arrest with no due process, i.e. no lawyer, no bail, no trial by jury. The violator goes in front of a judge who decides how long the offender returns to prison for or if they return to parole.
This is where it gets a little sticky. Because of ex post facto laws, no one who was convicted between 1995 and 2004 and placed on CSL could be switched to PSL. Therefore, anyone who was originally a CSL offender had to remain a CSL offender and remain a non-parolee who would be offered all the due process rights of a normal civilian. Anyone who was sentenced to PSL was the same as any other parolee, i.e., a “non-custodial inmate.”
That’s the background. Now here’s the civil rights violations. Parole and Probation has taken to placing CSL offenders into the Bo Robinson House in Trenton whenever they decide to or if they want to punish them. Bo Robinson is a medium security prison that is run by a private company called the GEO Group, and overseen by the NJ Department of Corrections. It is a lock-down facility that the NJDOC describes as a facility for men and women who are within 24 months of parole eligibility. I called the Clinical Director of Bo Robinson named Ms. Newborn who told me that Bo Robinson is most definitely not a halfway house and that you must be an inmate to be housed there. When I asked about CSL offenders placed there who are not inmates or parolees, she told me that she does not know about the classifications of the inmates there, that she just accepts whomever parole sends to her, I have sent an email to the executive director of NJ Parole, Steven Tallard, who was appointed in January 2019, and have not received a reply. When I called the district parole office on Broad Street in Trenton and inquired about why CSL offenders were being locked up at Bo Robinson, I was rudely rushed off the phone and told that they could not talk to me about it.
So here is the issue. CSL offenders are being placed into a prison, without violating any conditions, and without anyone to help them. They’re civil rights are being violated in the most severe way, and no one wants to hear their voice because of the stigma that goes along with being a sex offender. Parole claims that they are doing this under the guise of the STEPS program, which stands for Stages to Enhance Parolee Success. If someone on CSL refuses to accept to be placed in Bo Robinson, they are charged with a violation of their CSL and thrown in jail. So their options are confinement in Bo Robinson, a prison, or confinement in jail. Not much of a choice. I personally know of one individual who refused to be placed in Bo Robinson and was charged with a violation for the refusal and spent 34 days in jail because of it.
Added to the civil rights violations of being locked into Bo Robinson are all of the horrors that are associated with the facility. It is well documented in the news that there are many, many problems taking place there.. Sexual assault by the guards on the male and female inmates. Drugs being brought in by both guard and counselors, to the point that 76% of the population who are tested, tested positive for substance use. There have been overdoses and deaths. There have been countless allegations of physical violence and rape, especially at night because there are not enough guards to watch all of the inmates in the dormitory setting. Some inmates have requested to go back to prison because they felt safer there. There has been an incident where 12 inmates stripped, choked, and robbed 2 other inmates, and there were no repercussions. Mercer County has gone so far as to remove all of their inmates from the facility and put them back in the Mercer County Jail.
I implore you to help stop these civil right violations and atrocities. Don’t look at the CSL offenders are lowly sex offenders, look at them as human beings. Would you want one of your family members to be locked up at the discretion of a disgruntled and heartless state parole employee? The justice system is in place for a reason, and due process is an important part of that system. Let’s stop the injustice and stop the power hungry corrupt parole officers.