On appeal from the Final Agency Decision of the Department of Corrections.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges R. B. Coleman and Sabatino.
William Dykeman, an inmate in the New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) in Trenton, challenges the responses of the Department of Corrections (DOC) to his numerous requests and complaints regarding his imprisonment, made using the DOC's "Inmate Remedy System" (IRS). Because Dykeman has not exhausted his administrative remedies, he does not appeal from a final adjudication. As a result, the appeal is dismissed without prejudice.
The IRS was created so that inmates may "formally communicate with correctional facility staff to request information from, and present issues, concerns, complaints or problems to the correctional facility staff." N.J.A.C. 10A:1-4.1. The initial step of the IRS requires an inmate to fill out an IRS Form, seeking either a "Routine Inmate Request" or an "Interview Request." N.J.A.C. 10A:1-4.5. This must be done "to fully exhaust the initial step of the Inmate Remedy System prior to submitting an "Administrative Appeal." Ibid.; N.J.A.C. 10A:1-4.6(a).
The "Administrative Appeal" is a mechanism "through which inmates are encouraged to formally appeal to the Administrator or designee the decision or finding rendered by correctional facility staff in regard to the 'Routine Inmate Request' or 'Interview Request' that was previously presented by the inmate." N.J.A.C. 10A:1-4.1. Put another way:
[W]hen a "Routine Inmate Request" or "Interview Request" decision or finding is rendered by correctional facility staff to the inmate, and the inmate wishes to appeal the resulting decision or finding to the Administrator or designee, the inmate is encouraged to submit an "Administrative Appeal." The submission of an "Administrative Appeal" enables the inmate to fully utilize each available option by completing the comprehensive Inmate Remedy System in regard to the inmate's request for information, issue, concern, complaint or problem.
(d) The comprehensive Inmate Remedy System [is] to include a "Routine Inmate Request" and/or "Interview Request," and an "Administrative Appeal" must be utilized and fully exhausted prior to an inmate filing any legal action regarding information requests, issues, concerns, complaints, or problems. [N.J.A.C. 10A:1-4.4.]
"An 'Administrative Appeal' must be submitted by the inmate . . . within 10 calendar days from the issuance of the decision or finding of the correctional facility staff member to the 'Routine Inmate Request' or 'Interview Request.'" N.J.A.C. 10A:1-4.6. Lastly, and critical to this appeal, "[t]he decision or finding of the Administrator or designee to the 'Administrative Appeal' is the final level of review and decision or finding of the New Jersey Department of Corrections.'" Ibid.
Beginning on June 8, 2006, and as recently as May 11, 2007, using the IRS Forms, Dykeman made various requests or complaints concerning his incarceration at NJSP, such as: the medical and dental treatment available to him; the meals provided to him; his access to law library materials and law related phone calls; the exercise time afforded to him; the prison's smoking policy; and the clothing provided to him. All of his requests were received and the DOC either took no action and issued a DOC Corrective Action form, or returned Dykeman's IRS forms with a response. None of the IRS forms in the record on this appeal indicate that Dykeman appealed the outcome of his requests and complaints; instead, the section for an Administrative Appeal appears blank on each IRS form.
On December 11, 2006, Dykeman filed this appeal, alleging the following:
POINT I: THE DENIAL OF DAILY EXERCISE, COUPLED WITH BEING LOCKED IN A CELL FOR A SPAN OF 72 HOURS WITHOUT FRESH AIR OR EXERCISE CONSTITUTES CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT UNDER OUR EVOLVING STANDARDS FOR A CIVILIZED SOCIETY, AND UNDER A FAIR EIGHTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT ANALYSIS.
POINT II: MANY ASPECTS OF INMATES ACCESS TO THE COURTS IS UNDULY RESTRICTIVE, FRAUGHT WITH NEGLIGENCE AND CORRUPTION, CONSTITUTIONALLY ...