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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Raymond Pyatt, #113286 vs. SCDOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

Raymond Pyatt, #113286

South Carolina Department of Corrections





This matter is before the Administrative Law Judge Division ("Division") pursuant to the appeal of Raymond Pyatt, an inmate incarcerated with the Department of Corrections ("Department") since 1989. On September 9, 1999, Inmate Pyatt filed a grievance with the Department, essentially alleging that his maxout date had been miscalculated. On March 28, 2000, Inmate Pyatt filed this appeal with the Division. Inmate Pyatt received the Department's final decision on June 23, 2000.II. BACKGROUND

In 1989, Inmate Pyatt was sentenced to twenty-five years after he was convicted of Grand Larceny, Resisting an Officer, and Second Degree Burglary. After inquiring about the calculation of his sentence and receiving no response from his caseworker, Inmate Pyatt filed a grievance on September 9, 1999, in which he asked for his projected maxout date as calculated in 1989 when he began serving his twenty-five year sentence. In addition, Inmate Pyatt requested the projected maxout date on a twenty-five year sentence with no applied work credits. On September 24, 1999, Inmate Pyatt was informed that, because he did not earn work credits during periods that he did not work, Inmate Pyatt's maxout date had increased from the projected maxout date he had been given when he was initially confined. Inmate Pyatt then filed a "Step 2" grievance in which he alleged he had been employed the entire time he was incarcerated. On June 23, 2000, the Department informed Inmate Pyatt that his earned work credit ("EWC") history indicated he had not worked the entire time he was incarcerated and that he had been convicted of disciplinary infractions, resulting in the loss of good time. This appeal followed.


The Division's jurisdiction to hear this matter is derived entirely from the decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court in Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. 354, 527 S.E.2d 742 (2000). In Al- Shabazz, the Supreme Court created a new avenue by which inmates could seek review of final decisions of the Department of Corrections in "non-collateral" matters, i.e., matters in which an inmate does not challenge the validity of a conviction or sentence, by appealing those decisions to the Division and ultimately to the circuit court pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act. 338 S.C. at 373, 376, 527 S.E.2d at 752, 754. These matters typically arise in two ways: (1) when an inmate is disciplined and punishment is imposed; and (2) when an inmate believes that his sentence, sentence-related credits, or custody status have been calculated incorrectly. 338 S.C. at 369, 527 S.E.2d at 750.

As in all cases subject to appellate review by the Division, the standard of review in these inmate grievance cases is limited to the record presented. An Administrative Law Judge may not substitute his judgment for that of an agency unless the agency's determination is affected by error of law or is clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence in the whole record. S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-380(A)(6) (Supp. 1999); Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 380, 527 S.E.2d at 756; Lark v. Bi-Lo, Inc., 276 S.C. 130, 276 S.E.2d 304 (1981). Moreover, to afford "meaningful judicial review," the Administrative Law Judge must "adequately explain" his decision by "documenting the findings of fact" and basing his decision on "reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record." Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 380, 527 S.E.2d at 756. In a miscalculated sentence case, the grievance procedure established by the Department, in which an inmate has the opportunity to raise the matter to prison officials and in which a reviewable record is created, satisfies the requirements of due process. Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 375, 527 S.E.2d at 753. I find that the Department afforded Inmate Pyatt all process that was due in these circumstances. Inmate Pyatt raised the issue of his sentence calculation by filing a grievance, in which he stated his belief that he should be serving twelve and one half years of his 25 year sentence. After verifying Inmate Pyatt's sentence calculation, the Warden responded by explaining that Inmate Pyatt's maxout date was a projected date only, and that he had failed to earn work credits for periods of time during which he was unemployed. Inmate Pyatt was then permitted to appeal the Warden's decision to the Department level. In response to Inmate Pyatt's appeal, the Department stated that Inmate Pyatt's EWC history indicated that he had not worked continuously during his incarceration and that Inmate Pyatt had lost good time as the result of disciplinary infractions. The Department then informed Inmate Pyatt that he could appeal the Department's final decision to the Division. As such, I find that the Department complied with the minimal due process required in this case.

Moreover, I find that there is substantial evidence that the Department correctly calculated Inmate Pyatt's sentence. Although Inmate Pyatt alleges that he has been employed the entire time he has been incarcerated, the Record indicates that Inmate Pyatt has had a number of gaps in his employment, which negatively affect his ability to earn work credits. In addition, the Record indicates that Inmate Pyatt has lost earned good time for disciplinary infractions. As a result, Inmate Pyatt's maxout date is further in the future than had been predicted when he first arrived in the custody of the Department. Because the Department's Final Decision is supported by "evidence which, considering the record as a whole, would allow reasonable minds to reach the conclusion that [the Department] reached," see Lark v. Bi-Lo, Inc., 276 S.C. 130, 276 304 (1981), I affirm the Department's Final Decision.


IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Final Decision of the Department be AFFIRMED;

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Inmate Pyatt's appeal be dismissed.




Administrative Law Judge

November 9, 2000

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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