Camden, N.J. – The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office has filed a Consent Order, jointly with the ACLU, to allow for the reduction of a Newark man’s parole after more than two decades served, according to Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer.
In July of 1995, Marshall Rountree, now 47, of Newark, pleaded guilty to charges of Aggravated Assault and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose after he robbed a woman at gunpoint in her Voorhees apartment building’s parking lot in July of 1993. Rountree’s plea agreement called for a sentence of nine years with three years of parole ineligibility.
After appearing in court, a judge rejected the plea agreement and the case went to trial. A jury found Rountree guilty on all charges and the judge applied the Graves Act’s repeat-offender provision, sentencing him to 50 years with 16 years and eight months of parole ineligibility to be served consecutively to a 10-year sentence he was already serving from an Essex County plea.
Rountree was paroled with supervision in 2016 after serving nearly 23 years in state prison. Since his release, Rountree has become a leading community advocate, keynote speaker at schools and community centers, and a mentor to troubled young people as well as to former inmates. He was also asked to testify before the Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Committee at its only public hearing by former Chief Justice Poritz and was appointed by the current Chief Justice, Justice Rabner, to serve on the Court’s Mental Health Advisory Board. Most recently, Rountree was nominated as a member of the newly-formed Essex County Civilian Task Force, chaired by former Governor McGreevey, providing oversight to the Essex County Correctional Facility.
In February of 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation filed a request with the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office to jointly consent to eliminate the remainder of Rountree’s parole supervision to allow him to expand his speeches and work as the Northern Regional Coordinator for the Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey.
“In looking at the facts of this case, the amount of time Mr. Rountree has served, what he has accomplished since his parole release, and speaking to the victim we believe he deserves an opportunity to expand his community outreach endeavors,” said Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer. “By consenting to terminate his parole supervision, Mr. Rountree will be able to reach a larger audience and continue to positively impact others in the future. Importantly, Mr. Rountree has not attempted to excuse or diminish the seriousness of the offense that he committed when he was 19 years old.”
The victim, who asked to remain anonymous, agreed with the decision and said, “I believe in second chances and he has proven that through rehabilitation and his lectures.”
“Mr. Rountree is one of the most committed, effective advocates New Jersey has, and the Camden County Prosecutor’s decision to allow the termination of his parole is both cause for celebration and a testament to his work. We thank Acting Prosecutor Mayer for recognizing, after consultation with the victim, that the circumstances of Mr. Rountree’s case coupled with his extraordinary post-prison activities and his potential to achieve even more, if not limited by parole, warranted an amended sentence,” said Alexander Shalom, Director of Supreme Court Advocacy at the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. “The unnecessary harshness of his initial sentence – imposed more than a quarter century ago – also reminds us of the immense work ahead in building a fairer criminal-legal system. That work will benefit from Mr. Rountree’s passion, ingenuity, and strength as an advocate.”
The Honorable Edward J. McBride, Jr., P.J. Cr., signed the Consent Order on July 7, 2020 officially reducing Rountree’s sentence.