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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Derrick Gamble #161727 vs. DOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

Derrick Gamble #161727

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 Derrick Gamble appeals the calculation of his sentence and 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 1990, Appellant was convicted of several drug-related offenses, for which he received a thirty-five-year sentence. He was paroled in 1999. While on parole, Appellant committed and was convicted of another drug-related crime, for which he had his parole revoked and was sentenced to a five-year prison term to run concurrently with his earlier thirty-five-year sentence. In the instant appeal, Appellant raises several challenges to the Department’s calculation of his sentence and sentence-related credits. Specifically, Appellant contends that the Department is (1) improperly calculating his sentence based upon a 360-day year, (2) not properly crediting him for the time he served in jail between his arrest in 2001 and conviction in 2002 on his most recent offense, and (3) not properly applying his earned sentence-related credits to his sentence.


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 has improperly calculated his sentence and 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.

Each of Appellant’s grievances will be addressed in turn. 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” 12,600 days under the 360-day year (35 years x 360 days per year), rather than the 12,775 days it would be under a 365-day year (35 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. Footnote See, e.g., Martinez v. Gudmanson, 370 N.W.2d 814 (Wis. Ct. App. 1985) (upholding sentence calculations based upon a 360-day year).

Second, the Department has properly accounted for the time served by Appellant between his August 2001 arrest and July 2002 sentencing with regard to the computation of his prior sentences. See Respondent’s Brief, Ex. II. However, it is not clear that the Department has computed that time correctly with respect to Appellant’s 2002 conviction. In particular, the Department’s records list the start date for that sentence as September 20, 2001; however, the sentencing judge had ordered that Appellant be given credit for time served beginning on August 17, 2001. See Respondent’s Brief, Ex. I. Therefore, if the Department has not already done so, it should credit Appellant with the time he served in jail between August 17, 2001 and September 20, 2001, when calculating the time remaining on his five-year sentence for his 2002 conviction.

Third, 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), 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, except that, to the extent it has not done so, IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Department credit Appellant for certain time served between August 2001 and September 2002, as described above.



Administrative Law Judge

March 8, 2004

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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