South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
Edgar A. Brown building 1205 Pendleton St., Suite 224 Columbia, SC 29201 Voice: (803) 734-0550

SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Kenneth L. Young, #269901 vs. SCDOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

Kenneth L. Young, #269901

South Carolina Department of Corrections





This matter is before the Administrative Law Judge Division ("Division") pursuant to the appeal of Kenneth L. Young, an inmate incarcerated with the Department of Corrections ("Department"). On April 29, 2002, Young was convicted of violating SCDC Disciplinary Code 2.04, Possession of Contraband, after a shakedown occuring on April 17, 2002. As a result of his conviction, Young lost 30 days of "good-time" credit and received 20 hours extra duty. Young filed a grievance with the Department and received the Department's final decision on or about June 28, 2002. On July 19, Young filed this appeal.


On April 17, 2002, Young and several other inmates assigned to litter duty reported to shakedown after returning from duty. Young went first, stepping out of his boots in one room and entered the shakedown room for a strip search. After all of the inmates were strip searched by Sgt. Rhodes in the shakedown room, Sgt. Rhodes went into the other room where all of the inmates' boots were located and shook down the boots. In one pair of boots, Sgt. Rhodes found two fifty dollar bills. The bills were clearly visible to Sgt. Rhodes when he looked in the boots. After Sgt. Rhodes brought the boots into the shakedown room, Young admitted ownership of the boots but denied possessing or even knowing about the bills.

After the incident, Young was placed in PHD. Sgt. Rhodes completed an Incident Report and submitted it to his supervisor. Young was charged with violating SCDC Code 2.04, Possession of Contraband, and received written notice of the charge on April 22, 2002. The hearing was held on April 29, 2002, before a Disciplinary Hearing Officer ("DHO"), who read into the Record Sgt. Rhodes' Incident Report. Young was represented by counsel substitute, who informed the DHO that Young had requested several witnesses, but upon meeting with the proposed witnesses, counsel substitute had determined that their testimony was not relevant. The DHO also took Young's statement. Young testified that, while on litter duty, several inmates found a wallet containing some money. Young and another inmate walked away from the group inspecting the wallet. When Young realized the group of inmates were going to throw the wallet down, Young took it to Officer Sims. At that time, the wallet contained a driver's license and credit cards, but no cash. Young also testified that, after the wallet was found, he and a buddy or two took off their boots while eating lunch under an oak tree because their boots and socks had become wet. Later, when the inmates returned from duty, a shakedown was announced, and Young got in line first. Young testified that he always goes first in shakedowns. As a result, Young asked the DHO why he would volunteer to go first if he knew he possessed contraband. At the conclusion of the hearing, the DHO informed Young that he had been found guilty based on Sgt. Rhodes written report and Young's testimony that the boots were his. Additionally, the DHO informed Young that he would be sanctioned with the loss of 30 days of good time credit and would receive 20 hours' extra duty at his new institution. After the hearing, the DHO completed a Major Disciplinary Report and Hearing Record ("Hearing Record"), which documented the DHO's findings based on Sgt. Rhodes' report and Young's testimony that he saw the bills in his boots when Sgt. Rhodes brought them into the shakedown room. In addition, the Hearing Record reflects that Young lost only 30 days of good-time credit and was given extra duty because it was his first offense.

Young filed a grievance that same day, appealing his conviction of violating SCDC 2.04 because he never had possession of the contraband bills. On May 16, 2002, the Warden denied his grievance, finding no procedural due process violations. On May 21, 2002, Young appealed the warden's decision, alleging the DHO had made five procedural errors. The Department denied his grievance, stating that no reason was found to reverse the DHO's decision and that Young had failed to request his proposed witnesses prior to the hearing. 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). On September 5, 2001, the Division issued an En Banc Order in McNeil v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, 00-ALJ-04-00336-AP (September 5, 2001), interpreting the breadth of its jurisdiction pursuant to Al-Shabazz. The decision holds that the Division's appellate jurisdiction in inmate appeals is limited to two types of cases: (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.

In this case, Young lost 30 days of good time after he pleaded guilty to a prison disciplinary infraction. As such, I find that this tribunal has jurisdiction to hear Young's appeal.

The statutory right to sentence-related credits is a protected liberty interest under the Fourteenth Amendment. Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 369-370, 527 S.E.2d at 750. An inmate facing the loss of sentence related credits is entitled to minimal due process to ensure that the state-created right is not arbitrarily abrogated. Id. While due process is "flexible and calls for such procedural protections as the particular situation demands," Stono River Envtl. Protection Ass'n v. S.C. Dept. Of Health and Envtl. Control, 305 S.C. 90, 94, 406 S.E.2d 30, 341 (1991), certain elements must be satisfied in order for procedural due process requirements to be met, including adequate advance notice of the charges, adequate opportunity for a hearing in which the inmate can present witnesses and documentary evidence, and an impartial hearing officer who prepares a written statement of all the evidence presented and the reasons for his decision. Al-Shabazz, 527 S.E.2d at 751, citing Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563-72, 94 S. Ct. 2963, 2978-82 (1974).

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.

Notwithstanding the issue of whether Young was afforded all process due him pursuant to Al-Shabazz, I find that the Department's determination of guilt in this case is clearly erroneous in light of the substantial evidence in the Record. SCDC Disciplinary Code 2.04, Possession of Contraband, defines the offense as "[t]he possession of any unauthorized property, including money,... ." Possession of contraband may be established by evidence of the power and intent to control its disposition or use. See State v. Ellis, 263 S.C. 12, 22, 207 S.E.2d 408, 413 (1974). Proof of possession requires more than the mere presence of the contraband. See State v. Tabory, 260 S.C. 355, 364, 196 S.E.2d 111, 113 (1973). Instead, actual knowledge of the presence of the contraband is required. State v. Brown, 267 S.C. 311, 315, 227 S.E.2d 674, 676 (1976). Although actual knowledge may be inferred from the presence of contraband, the burden of proof does not shift to the defendant to disprove actual knowledge. See State v. Adams, 291 S.C. 132, 135, 352 S.E.2d 483, 486 (1987).

In this case, there is no substantial evidence in the Record that Young possessed the money in his boots because there was a substantial period of time in which Young did not possess or have control over his boots. Likewise, even if Young brought the bills into the prison in his boots, there is no substantial evidence that Young possessed the requisite knowledge that the bills were in his boots. There was ample opportunity for another to place the bills in his boots either inside or outside of the prison without Young's knowledge or consent. Young's boots were off and removed from his control during lunch and again while inside the prison, when Young was in the other room being strip-searched. Consequently, the Department's Final Decision is REVERSED.

All other issues raised by Appellant during the Grievance process and Appeal are mooted by this Order. IV. ORDER

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Final Decision of the Department is REVERSED;

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Department credit Young with the 30 days of "good-time" credits lost as a result of his conviction;

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Department credit Young with any good-time credit he failed to earn as a result of his conviction.





September 16, 2002

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






Copyright © 2022 South Carolina Administrative Law Court