TRENTON, N.J. – More than 40% of inmates released under the landmark law Gov. Phil Murphy signed in October 2020, allowing inmates to be let out up to eight months early during public health emergencies, were denied parole, according to documents received by Republicans on the Assembly budget committee from the State Parole Board.
“This is a shocking revelation,” said Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-Morris). “Innocent lives were lost when inmates murdered others after their release. Superseding the decisions of the parole board is irresponsible no matter the justification. Inmates are denied parole because they are determined to still be dangerous or not yet fully ready to rejoin society.”
At least 3,152 inmates received public health emergency credits were previously denied parole, according to a letter signed by parole board Chairman Samuel Plumeri Jr. and supplied to the Assembly budget committee. The letter was in response to questions posed by Dunn at a budget hearing on May 11.
To date, more than 7,600 prisoners have been released, cutting New Jersey’s incarcerated population by nearly 75% since March 2020 despite opposition from Republican lawmakers and law enforcement.
The parole board did not provide a list of released inmates, an explanation of their crimes, reasons for denied parole, or the names of those who later committed other crimes.
“There are still a lot questions to answer,” added Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-Sussex), who served on the parole board before joining the Legislature. “Clearly, freeing criminals who were determined to still be dangerous was more important to Governor Murphy than the safety of law-abiding people, but what else is new.”
At least three inmates released under the program have since been charged with murder.
– Jerry D. Crawford was charged for the November 2020 shooting death of an 18-year-old Bridgeton resident two days after being released under the program.
– Ronny Paden is accused of killing two people during a birthday party in Edgewater Park in January 2021.
– Theodore Luckey was arrested for double homicide in New Hampshire in August of 2021, strangling one victim and hacking the other to death with a machete.
Even though Murphy said violent criminals like murderers would not be eligible, a brutal child killer was freed early under the program.
– Charles Kane was incarcerated for killing a 3-year-old boy. Kane was babysitting when the child wet his pants, angering him so much that threw the child into a refrigerator, causing head trauma and ultimately death.