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King v. Dep't of Corrections

November 13, 2008

ARLINGTON KING, APPELLANT,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.



On appeal from a Final Agency Decision of the Department of Corrections.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 27, 2008

Before Judges R. B. Coleman and Sabatino.

Arlington King, an inmate at East Jersey State Prison ("East Jersey"), appeals a final administrative decision of the Department of Corrections ("the Department") disciplining him for two asterisked offenses under N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1: (i) a *.703 violation for conduct with a visitor contrary to prison regulations and (ii) an additional *.703 violation for accepting improper monetary gifts. We affirm.

King is serving a thirty-year term for murder and other crimes. He was transferred in September 2007 to East Jersey from the New Jersey State Prison ("the NJSP") in Trenton.

The disciplinary charges arose out of King's interactions with a visitor, Darlene Sexton. At the time in question, Sexton was employed as a nurse at the NJSP by Correctional Medical Services ("CMS"). CMS was then under contract with the Department to provide medical care to inmates at various State penal facilities. Sexton first became acquainted with King, who has medical issues, in the course of her employment at the NJSP.

The Department acknowledges that Sexton was not employed by the Department of Corrections, or otherwise employed by the State of New Jersey. Instead, she was on the payroll of CMS.

After he had been questioned about this matter, King told a corrections officer that he had requested a transfer to East Jersey with the specific purpose of having Sexton visit him there. We note that East Jersey, located in Rahway, is a considerable distance from Sexton's home in Mercer County.

Once he arrived at East Jersey, King included Sexton on his proposed list of visitors, designating her with the legend on the form corresponding to a "friend." King also provided Sexton's home address. The form does not request employment information about the inmate's proposed visitors. Therefore, the form did not specifically alert East Jersey administrators that Sexton is a nurse, or that she worked at the NJSP.

Sexton visited King at East Jersey three times: November 3, 10 and 17, 2007. Evidently, when she entered the building on each of those occasions, her employment as a prison nurse at the NJSP was not readily apparent. During her visit with King on November 17, Sexton was spotted in the hall by a corrections officer who recognized her as a nurse from the NJSP. This discovery caused the prison officers to terminate Sexton's visit immediately.

Corrections officers then searched King's cell and found various torn-up papers and other items referring to Sexton. The officers also found $300 in currency, which King claimed Sexton had given him for use in the prison commissary.

King was thereafter charged with the two aforementioned offenses under *.703. Additionally, he was charged with a violation of *.754 for accepting money with the intent to circumvent prison rules, and a violation of *.704 for unauthorized contact with the public.

The initial disciplinary hearing, after some preliminary matters were addressed, was postponed to a later date to gather additional information. The testimony and other proofs were fully presented before a second hearing officer on November 30, 2007. After considering the evidence, the hearing officer found King guilty of both *.703 violations, but not guilty of the *.754 and *.704 charges. As sanctions, the hearing officer imposed fifteen days of detention for ...


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