N.J.S.A. 30:4-123.51(A) Interpretation

N.J.S.A. 30:4-123.51(a) provides, in pertinent part, that an inmate sentenced to a term of incarceration for a specific term of years at the State Prison "shall become primarily eligible for parole after having served any judicial or statutory mandatory minimum term, or one-third of the sentence imposed where no mandatory minimum term has been imposed less commutation time for good behavior . . . and credits for diligent application to work in other institutional assignments . . . ." In addition, commutation and work credits do not reduce a period of parole ineligibility and are only awarded subsequent to the expiration of that period. Ibid. The statute sets forth what is commonly referred to as the "primary eligibility date." In Booker v. New Jersey State Parole Board, 136 N.J. 257, 642 A.2d 984 (1994), the Supreme Court rejected defendant's contention that his gap-time credit should reduce his period of parole ineligibility imposed on a subsequent, concurrent sentence. Id. at 263, 642 A.2d 984.