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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

George Almodovar #229806 vs. DOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

George Almodovar #229806

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 George Almodovar appeals the calculation of sentence and his sentence-related credits 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.


In the instant matter, Appellant contends that the Department has not given him proper credit for the time he has served and that the Department is not properly deducting “good-time” credits and earned work credits from his sentence. Specifically, Appellant claims: (1) that the Department has impermissibly calculated his time served based on a 360-day years, rather than a 365-day year, and (2) that the Department has failed to properly deduct his sentence-related credits, particularly his earned work credits, from his sentence. In response, the Department maintains that it is properly calculating Appellant’s sentence and time served based on a 360-day year and that it is properly crediting Appellant with his sentence-related credits.


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 by appealing those decisions to the ALJD pursuant to the South Carolina Administrative Procedures Act. Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 376, 527 S.E.2d at 754. The Court further found that the Division’s jurisdiction to hear such matters is “typically” limited to cases where an inmate is disciplined and the punishment imposed affects the inmate’s state-created liberty interests and cases where an inmate believes the Department has erroneously calculated his sentence, sentence-related credits, or custody status. Id. at 369-370, 527 S.E.2d at 750. Subsequently, in Sullivan v. S.C. Dep’t of Corrections, 355 S.C. 437, 586 S.E.2d 124 (2003), the Court held that, under Al-Shabazz, the ALJD also has jurisdiction to hear cases where an inmate challenges a condition of his confinement that implicates a state-created liberty interest. Footnote Id. at 443, 586 S.E.2d at 127. In the case at hand, Appellant contends that the Department improperly calculated sentence and his sentence-related credits; 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; Sullivan, 355 S.C. at 443, 586 S.E.2d at 127. 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 other internal prison affairs 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.

In the case at hand, Appellant’s arguments must fail. First, the Department’s computation of Appellant’s time served based on a 360-day year, rather than on a 365-day year, does not require Appellant to serve any additional time because the length of Appellant’s sentence is also calculated based on a 360-day year. That is, the days “lost” by Appellant when he is credited with 360 days instead of 365 days of time served per year are equally deducted from the length of Appellant’s sentence, which is “only” 10,800 days under the 360-day year (30 years x 360 days per year), rather than the 10,950 days it would be under a 365-day year (30 years x 365 days per year). The Department’s use of a 360-day year in calculating Appellant’s sentence and time served does not require Appellant to serve time beyond the length of his given sentence. Moreover, even if Appellant’s sentence was calculated with a 365-day year, his projected release date would be no different from what is currently calculated. Footnote

Second, the Department is properly applying Appellant’s sentence-related credits to his sentence. Appellant’s claims to the contrary are based on a misunderstanding of Appellant’s projected “max-out”–i.e., release–date. The projected max-out date is just that–a projection. It is a projected release date based upon the assumption that an inmate will earn and retain the maximum of sentence-related credits, such as good-time credits and earned work credits, available to him. Therefore, as an inmate earns and retains his sentence-related credits, his projected max-out date will not move forward because the date already presumes the earning of those credits. However, if an inmate losses or fails to earn good-time credits, or if the rate at which he earns other credits changes (e.g., if the inmate is assigned to a job that earns credits at a different rate than his previous job), Footnote his projected release date must be adjusted to account for his failure to earn and retain the maximum amount of good-time credit available or to reflect the change in the rate at which he earns his other sentence-related credits. Thus, even though an inmate’s projected release date does not move forward as he earns and retains his sentence-related credits, and may move backward as he losses good-time credits or earns work credits at a different rate, he is nonetheless earning and being properly credited with those sentence-related credits. Accordingly, Appellant’s claim that the Department is not applying his sentence-related credits to his sentence must be rejected.

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



Administrative Law Judge

March 5, 2004

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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