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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Wayne Carr #119685 vs. SCDOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

Wayne Carr #119685

South Carolina Department of Corrections





This matter comes before the Administrative Law Judge Division (ALJD or Division) pursuant to the decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court in Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. 354, 527 S.E.2d 742 (2000). Appellant Wayne Carr appeals the calculation of his sentence by the South Carolina Department of Corrections (DOC or Department). Having reviewed the record, applicable law, and the briefs filed by the parties in this matter, I conclude that the decision of the Department must be affirmed.


Appellant contends that the Department has improperly calculated his projected release date. Specifically, Appellant believes, based upon his own calculations, that the Department is only crediting him with ten days of "good-time" credit for each month served rather than twenty days of good-time credit per month. In response, the Department contends that Appellant is, in fact, receiving twenty days of good-time credit per month and that the projected release date calculated by the Department is correct.


In Al-Shabazz, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that inmates may seek review of final decisions of the Department in certain "non-collateral" or administrative matters (i.e., those matters in which an inmate does not challenge the validity of a conviction or sentence) by appealing those decisions to the ALJD pursuant to the South Carolina Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 376, 527 S.E.2d at 754. In McNeil v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, a majority of the judges of the ALJD, sitting en banc, held that this tribunal's jurisdiction to hear inmate appeals under Al-Shabazz is limited to: (1) cases in which an inmate contends that prison officials have erroneously calculated his sentence, sentence-related credits, or custody status, and (2) cases in which the Department has taken an inmate's created liberty interest as punishment in a major disciplinary hearing. McNeil v. S.C. Dep't of Corrections, No. 00-ALJ-04-00336-AP, slip op. at 4-5 (S.C. Admin. Law Judge. Div. Sept. 5, 2001) (en banc). In the case at hand, Appellant contends that the Department improperly calculated his sentence; accordingly, this tribunal has jurisdiction over this matter.

When reviewing the Department's decisions in inmate grievance matters, the ALJD sits in an appellate capacity. Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 377, 527 S.E.2d at 754. Consequently, this tribunal's review of inmate appeals is confined to the record presented, id., and its inquiry into these matters is primarily concerned with ensuring that the Department has granted aggrieved inmates the process they are due when their constitutional rights are implicated. Id. at 369, 527 S.E.2d at 750; McNeil, No. 00-ALJ-04-00336-AP, at 5 ("[O]ur review is limited solely to the determination of whether the Department granted 'minimal due process' in reaching [its] decisions . . . ."). Further, recognizing that prison officials are in the best position to decide inmate disciplinary matters, this tribunal will adhere to the traditional "hands off" approach to internal prison disciplinary policies and procedures when reviewing inmate appeals under the APA. Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 382, 527 S.E.2d at 757; see also Pruitt v. State, 274 S.C. 565, 266 S.E.2d 779 (1980) (stating the traditional "hands off" approach of South Carolina courts regarding internal prison discipline and policy). However, notwithstanding this deferential standard of review, this tribunal must conduct meaningful review of the Department's actions to ensure that inmate grievances are addressed in a fair, reasonable, and efficient manner. Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 383, 527 S.E.2d at 757.

Here, Appellant's claim that he is not receiving the proper amount of good-time credit is without merit. Figures submitted by the Department clearly demonstrate that Appellant's "max-out," or release, date was calculated based upon Appellant having earned and continuing to earn twenty days of good-time credit for every month served. See Respondent's Brief, Ex. 2, "Maxout Date Calculation Worksheet." According to these calculations, Appellant is receiving the proper amount of good-time credit. The contradictory projected release date reached by Appellant, see Petitioner's Brief at 3, is based upon a logical error in his calculations. (1) The Department is properly crediting Appellant with twenty days of good-time credit per month and has properly calculated Appellant's projected release date.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Department's denial of Appellant's grievance is AFFIRMED.



Administrative Law Judge

July 17, 2002

Columbia, South Carolina

1. In his brief, Appellant calculates the good-time credits to be applied to his sentence based upon the assumption that he will serve the entirety of his given sentence (i.e., without taking into account an early release). Appellant then subtracts these credits from his given sentence to determine his release date. However, at the time of that release date, Appellant would not have served the entire length of his given sentence and thus would not have earned much of the good-time credit he used to arrive at that release date. In short, to be released on the date he calculates as his release date, Appellant would have to be credited with good-time credits that he had not yet earned.

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