October 2, 2007
TYRONE P. HODGES, APPELLANT,
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.
On appeal from a Final Decision of the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted March 14, 2007
Remanded June 19, 2007
Resubmitted September 24, 2007
Before Judges Stern and Sabatino.
On June 19, 2007, we remanded this matter to the Department of Corrections (DOC) "to establish a record and for further findings and conclusions to support its final administrative determination in this case." The DOC had upheld a reduction in a commissary sales order appellant placed because he had insufficient funds in his prison fund account due to deductions the DOC made for medical and pharmacy expenses which had also been charged to the account. Appellant challenged the authority of the DOC to charge his account for the medical expenses and reduce the account below $15.00 which he claims entitlement to use for other purposes.
In responding to the remand, the DOC advises:
[T]he DOC has discontinued its policy of deducting monies for medical and pharmacy co-payments from the $15.00 monthly allotment. In order to effectuate its revised policy consistent with the Hodges decision, the DOC will change the manner in which inmates' State pay and inmates' obligations are posted on their inmate trust account. Previously, an inmate's State pay, which included the $15 monthly allotment, was posted first, and then all of the inmate's obligations were posted thereafter, including the noted co-payments. In Tyrone Hodges case, this resulted in several instances in which medical/pharmacy co-pays were deducted from the $15 allotment. Under the revised policy, medical/pharmacy co-pays will be posted first on the inmate's trust account, before State pay and other obligations [are] posted. Then, if an inmate only has $15 remaining after deductions are made for the other obligations, that amount will not be used for medical/pharmacy co-payments. Instead, the inmate will receive loans to pay for the medical/pharmacy co-pays.
We are further advised that appellant was released shortly after the remand order was entered, and
[T]he DOC has determined that during his incarceration, there were eight instances in which the DOC deducted monies for medical and pharmacy co-payments from Hodges $15.00 monthly allotment. However, the DOC does not owe Hodges any money because if the co-pays had not been deducted from the $15.00, Hodges would have received loans to make these co-payments, which he would have had to re-pay as long as he was in custody. Pursuant to DOC policy, however, any loans that were made to Hodges while he was in custody have been forgiven since he has now been released. In addition, DOC records indicate that at the time of his release, Hodges still owed approximately $900.00 towards his court-imposed fines and penalties, which also would have cancelled out any monies owed to Hodges.
Appellant has not responded to the Department's letter containing the above information. Therefore, he neither challenges the report nor asserts any continuing interest in the litigation. Accordingly, we deem the appeal moot, and dismiss it without prejudice to any further appeal in which the same fundamental issues are raised.
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