March 29, 2010
STEPHEN SMITH, APPELLANT,
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.
On appeal from the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted March 17, 2010
Before Judges Axelrad and Fisher.
Stephen Smith is in the custody of the Department of Corrections, serving a lengthy prison term at East Jersey State Prison in Rahway. He appeals a determination that he violated *.009, misuse or possession of electronic equipment not authorized for use or retention by an inmate, N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1.
The record reveals that, during a search of his cell, Smith was found to be in possession of a USB connector cable, which had been altered from its original form. The hearing officer concluded from the evidence in the record that the seized item, if utilized in conjunction with another part, could charge a cellphone. As a result, the hearing officer imposed 15 days' detention, a permanent loss of contact visits, 365 days' administration segregation, 365 days' loss of commutation credits, and 365 days' loss of telephone privileges. The assistant superintendent upheld the hearing officer's decision.
The inmate filed an appeal to this court from that final decision, arguing in a single point that the hearing officer's decision was arbitrary and capricious, and not based upon substantial credible evidence. We find insufficient merit in this argument to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(D). The hearing officer, as factfinder, was free to reject the inmate's contention that the seized item was merely part of a walkman, particularly in light of his other contradictory statements. In addition, the sanctions were not arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable because the potential for unauthorized cellphone use poses a serious security risk.
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