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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

John Hunter, #193568 vs. SCDOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

John Hunter, #193568

South Carolina Department of Corrections




This matter is before the Administrative Law Judge Division ("Division") pursuant to the appeal of John Hunter, an inmate incarcerated with the Department of Corrections ("Department") since December 1, 1992. On February 18, 2000, Inmate Hunter pleaded guilty to Disciplinary Code 1.10, Use or Possession of Narcotics, Marijuana, or Unauthorized Drugs, after testing positive for marijuana during a random drug test administered conducted on February 14, 2000. As a result of his conviction, Inmate Hunter lost 240 days of "good-time" credit. In addition, Inmate Hunter alleges that his conviction resulted in a loss of earned work credits. Inmate Hunter filed a grievance with the Department on March 1, 2000, and received the Department's final decision on June 16, 2000. On June 27, 2000, Inmate Hunter filed this appeal pursuant to the jurisdiction conferred by the South Carolina Supreme Court in Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. 354, 527 S.E.2d 742 (2000). In his appeal, Inmate Hunter alleges that the penalty imposed is unconstitutional because it exceeds the penalty for the same offense if committed while not incarcerated.

I find that Inmate Hunter' argument that the penalty imposed by the DHO is somehow unconstitutional because it exceeds the penalty for the same offense if committed while not incarcerated is without merit. The Department has the power to "prescribe reasonable rules and regulations governing the ... discipline of prisoners." S.C. Code Ann. § 24-1-140 (1999). Certainly that power would encompass the prohibition of the possession and use of illicit drugs as found in Policy GA-03.03, Inmate Drug Testing/Screening Program, which provides:

"inmates convicted of [use or possession of narcotics, marijuana, or unauthorized drugs] will be subject to the following sanctions:

1. Loss of 240 days of good time at a minimum[.]

Department Policy/Procedure GA-03.03 (1998).

Clearly, the penalty assessed by the DHO is prescribed by Department policy. Given the Department's duty to provide "an orderly and reasonably safe prison life" to all inmates and staff, see Wolff, 418 U.S. at 561-62, I do not find that the loss of 240 days of good time is an inappropriate penalty in this case. Therefore, I affirm the Department's final decision regarding the penalty assessed to Inmate Hunter as a result of his conviction.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the final decision of the Department is AFFIRMED and the appeal of Inmate Hunter is DISMISSED.



Ralph King Anderson, III

Administrative Law Judge

May 23, 2001

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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