On appeal from a Final Decision of the Department of Corrections.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 19, 2007
Before Judges R. B. Coleman and Lyons.
Plaintiff Richard DiBenedetti (DiBenedetti) is an inmate currently incarcerated at Northern State Prison serving a thirty-year term with thirty-year parole ineligibility on convictions for murder and armed robbery. He has appealed the final agency decision of the Department of Corrections (DOC) denying him commutation and work credits so as to reduce his mandatory minimum term. We affirm.
The following factual and procedural history is relevant to our consideration of the arguments advanced on appeal. On April 30, 1997, DiBenedetti pled guilty to murder, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3, and robbery, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1. On July 25, 1997, he was sentenced to a term of thirty years with thirty years to be served before becoming eligible for parole. Pursuant to Rule 3:21-8, DiBenedetti was entitled to and received 661 days of jail credit for time served in custody between arrest and the imposition of sentence. This credit reduced the time to be served in State prison to twenty-eight years and sixty-nine days.
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 30:4-140, certain credits shall be remitted "upon any person committed to any State correctional institution for a minimum-maximum term." Based on the schedule set out in N.J.S.A. 30:4-140, DiBenedetti claims he would be entitled to have 3,658 commutation credits awarded.
On August 8, 2005, DiBenedetti submitted an inmate request form (IRF) requesting the award of his commutation and work credits. On the IRF, DiBenedetti stated:
I have a 30 year sentence without parole. I would like to have my work credits, and commutation credits awarded, so as I may reduce my maximum sentence. Could you please calculate my maximum sentence as to award me my legally entitled commutation and work credits.
The DOC denied this request on September 13, 2005, stating that although all of the credits have been recorded, DiBenedetti is serving a thirty-year sentence with thirty-year parole ineligibility period. Attached to the denial was a copy of DiBenedtti's "face sheet" report indicating that his credits have been calculated and recorded.
On January 17, 2006, DiBenedetti submitted an "administrative remedy form," appealing from the September 13, 2005 denial. DiBenedetti wrote that "[t]his is a final administrative appeal of a previous request . . . for all of my work and commutation credits unlawfully denied me." On February 16, 2006, the DOC staff responded, "Please review that attached face sheet. Your record does not indicate any disciplinary charges. Therefore, there is no commutation time to restore."
On appeal, appellant presents the following arguments for our consideration:
THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS HAS ILLEGALLY AND UNCONSTITUTIONALLY DENIED THE APPELLANT-PETITIONER HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO REDUCE HIS SENTENCE THROUGH COMMUTATION AND WORK ...