June 15, 2010
JEFFREY WISE, APPELLANT,
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.
On appeal from a Final Agency Decision of the Department of Corrections.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted April 20, 2010
Before Judges Wefing and Grall.
Jeffrey Wise is an inmate in the custody of the Department of Corrections (the "Department"). He is appealing from a Final Decision of the Department finding him guilty of a disciplinary infraction and imposing sanctions. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.
Wise is serving his sentence at New Jersey State Prison and, at the relevant time period, worked as a paralegal at the institution. He was originally charged with *.306, conduct which disrupts the institution, based upon his having sent a birthday card to a civilian employee who worked at the prison.
The charge was later amended to .709, failure to comply with a written rule or regulation. N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1.
The New Jersey State Prison rule in question states:
[u]ndue familiarity between inmates and staff or a volunteer is prohibited. Inmates must limit their contact with staff and volunteers to authorized and official interactions. Any inmate who participates in, or engages in, any unauthorized contact, interaction, or relationship with a staff member or volunteer shall be subject to disciplinary action. Examples of undue familiarity or an inappropriate contact/relationship includes, but is not limited to: giving or receiving favors, gifts, services, displays of affection or any sexual behavior or contact . . . .
Defendant admitted sending a birthday card to the civilian employee. The card in question did more than simply extend good wishes on the employee's birthday. The printed text contained the following message:
May your special day be filled with pleasure And memories you'll always treasure . . . May it bring the joy and gladness, too, That others have just knowing you.
Defendant inscribed a personal message on the card.
You're one of the trealest [sic] sisters I have yet to meet. That said, I'm honored to be your brother & friend, and may you have the privilege of being blessed with birthdays in the abundance. And may age as gracefully as the ancestors (sic). My respect for you is beyond space and time.
After signing the card, Wise wrote, "Your bestest friend."
Wise complains that he was not given adequate notice.
There are two aspects to his argument, that he was not given notice that the conduct in question was a disciplinary infraction and that he was not supplied with information contained in a report prepared following a confidential investigation into contacts between inmates and civilian employees at the facility. We do not consider either assertion persuasive.
The rule in question directs inmates to "limit their contact with staff . . . to authorized and official interactions" and prohibits "undue familiarity." Clearly, Wise's description of himself as the employee's "bestest friend" and his statement that he considered himself "honored to be your brother & friend" were "unduly" familiar interactions between an inmate and a civilian employee.
Nor do we find merit in Wise's contention that he should have been provided access to the confidential report. The ultimate charge against Wise was, as we noted, .709, failure to comply with a written rule. Wise admitted signing and sending the card in question and entered a plea of guilty to the charge.
The contents of that confidential report are thus immaterial to the charge.
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