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  #1  
Old 01-10-2021, 03:53 AM
K.berlywhite K.berlywhite is offline
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Default Intro--K.berlywhite from New Jersey

My husband has been sentenced to 5 years in NJ. I'm struggling with it mostly because he doesn't deserve to be there.

He had an accident where he hit and killed a man walking down a dark street wearing dark clothing. He was driving his work van, and didn't see what he hit. It couldn't be ruled out that the man jumped in front of the van. He had 14 illegal substances in his system and there was a sidewalk on the other side of the road where he could have safely walked. My husband stopped and turned around at the next road and went back to see what he has hit (all of this on video btw). He didn't see anything so continues to a gas station where he stopped to investigate the van. He then went back to the area to look again and saw nothing. The man had apparently landed where he could not be easily seen as was confirmed by the interrogating officer. He left, confused and perplexed as to what happened. He went to his cousin's house a few blocks away and parked in front of the house, where the police found him the next morning. He was obviously not trying to cover anything up. Despite the fact that he had no idea what happened and didn't see any indication of what he had hit, he was nonetheless charged with leaving the screen off a fatal accident. He took a plea at the advice of his lawyer who said there was no way he could win the case and he could face harsher consequences if he didn't take a plea (up charging and threats of worse consequences, why don't we call this coercion?).

I know my husband and I can say without hesitation that if he had seen this man there is no chance he would have to left him. Unfortunately in NJ this doesn't matter. This is why I am agonizing over this. It makes no sense to me that he could be sentenced to 5 years in prison for this. What's scary is that I probably would have done the same thing. He applied for ISP and was told he was ineligible. He has been sitting in County for the last 4 months because of CoVid and there's no telling how much longer her will be sitting there. He hasn't been able to work because he is sentenced to state, so he isn't earning work credits while he sits there. Not to mention it's driving him crazy having nothing to do. I haven't been able to visit him either which makes it even more unbearable. I have been trying to find any other programs that may get him out sooner but finding any information is proven to be difficult.
I appreciate having this forum and the opportunity to vent. I could be more accepting of this had he done something with intent, but under these circumstances Im having a really hard time letting go of my anger at the system. My husband is a hardworking man, has 4 children he supports both financially and emotionally and most of all he has a huge heart and goes out of his way to be a good human, even in jail. How can I wrap my head around why they plucked him out of his very productive, "normal" life to pay this so called debt to society? For an accident? For unfortunate circumstances that caused him not to be able to see the man?

Thank you again for giving me a platform in which to vent. If anyone can help me find any programs or anything that may get him out faster than the earliest parole in a year, I would sincerely appreciate it and gratefully pay it forward.
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Old 01-10-2021, 05:39 AM
fbopnomore fbopnomore is offline
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Welcome to Prison Talk. Always remember that this will end, and he will be home again.
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Old 01-10-2021, 12:23 PM
K.berlywhite K.berlywhite is offline
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Thank you. Sometimes it doesn't feel like he will ever be home. We are both trying to focus on any good that can come from this experience. I know that until you are in it and directly affected by it, one does not realize how broken and backwards the system really is. There's no such thing as justice, it's a business for profit and they are definitely not trying to rehabilitate anyone.
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Old 01-10-2021, 03:32 PM
fbopnomore fbopnomore is offline
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Sometimes it is hard to look past the immediate prison problems, but looking ahead to the end of the disaster may be helpful. Stay strong (both of you) and take care of yourselves.
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Old 01-11-2021, 07:52 AM
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So true about not knowing what the justice system is like until you had the unfortunate experience of having to deal with it.
Its sad to me that he felt he had to take the deal. Truly awful. And Im sorry he got 5 years for it.

It truly does sound like an accident.


Right now with covid and no visits it makes it even harder. I guess letters and phone calls are going to be the only way to stay in touch for now until the covid situation improves enough to allow visits.


I know 5 years sounds like alot of time. I thought it was too. The time seemed to drag on and on. (my hub got 6years) but it DOES end. And when it does you will be surprised at how fast it went. Hang in there.
Read up in the NJ forums on the how to's (like visitation approvals, how to send money, what is and is not allowed to be mailed etc)
And come here and vent if ya need to.
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Old 01-13-2021, 11:04 AM
K.berlywhite K.berlywhite is offline
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Thank you. It is awful that he and so many others feel pressured to take plea deals. It is coercive by definition. They intimidate you with extra charges telling to you that trial will likely result in more time and the reality of that is that is not true. We tried to withdraw the plea as we felt the lawyer did not give us all of the information nor any choices. The judge wouldn't allow it. It felt as though they had their minds made up from the start as though he was a part of a bigger back room deal. I'm know it probably sounds paranoid but I know there is something else that happens behind closed doors that we aren't privy too. That is the only explanation for what I have seen. They had no interest in hearing the truth, no interest in giving him any breaks or consideration. He was forced to have as sentencing via video, which was a huge disadvantage. The number of things that I saw that were unconstitutional and unfair was dumbfounding. Yet the only way at to fight it is through appeal and before that would happen, he would be out, so what's the sense? They count on that also I'm sure.
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Old 01-13-2021, 11:24 PM
fbopnomore fbopnomore is offline
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The worst part of the plea bargain (LOL) fiasco for me is different. When the prosecutor threatens you with a much harsher punishment if you fight the charges, the trial penalty, they might actually be telling the truth rather than just lying (although they do lie too).

That means they either know the judge's sentencing policies from experience, or they know how much influence their often embellished sentencing memoranda have in resulting in harsher punishments in that court.

Example: Same judge, same charges filed within a month of mine. Sentencing guideline range started out at 24 months, but one of the two charges carried a 5 year mandatory minimum sentence.

The prosecutor threatened (promised) me with 15 years in prison if I went to trial, and my lawyer warned me that my judge had the worst sentencing history in that court district, so I pled guilty. My sentence was 5 years prison followed by 3 years of supervised release. The other individual went to trial to "prove his innocence", but he was convicted. His sentence for the identical two counts was 20 years in prison followed by lifetime supervised release (which has to be at least as awful as doing 20 years inside the bop gulag).

If everyone demanded a jury trial, the system would collapse, which all of law enforcement, prosecutors and judges knows.
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