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Deloach v. Dep't of Corrections

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


July 15, 2010

ABU MUHAMMAD NASEER DELOACH, APPELLANT,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.

On appeal from the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 18, 2010

Before Judges Fuentes and Simonelli.

Abu Muhammad Nasseer DeLoach is an inmate at East Jersey State Prison. He appeals from the decision of the Department of Corrections (DOC) to treat funds sent to him by an individual from outside the prison as contraband. We affirm.

The DOC decision that is the subject of this appeal is based on a policy that took effect on March 2, 2009, requiring that all funds sent to an inmate from outside the prison include the full name and address of the sender. Funds received by prison authorities that do not comply with this policy are processed as contraband and returned to the sender when possible.

On April 17, 2009, the staff at the East Jersey Prison received via ordinary mail two $40 money orders listing the sender as "G. Reid" with an address containing a street name, house number, the name of the municipality, the state and zip code number. The prison authorities determined these funds to be in violation of the policy because the sender did not include his or her complete name. The money orders were thus returned to the sender at the address indicated. When the money orders were returned as undeliverable by the United States Postal Service, prison authorities deposited the funds in appellant's contraband cash account.

Prison authorities notified appellant of this decision on April 17, 2009. Appellant challenged this decision through the prison's administrative review process arguing that he had not received prior notice of the change in policy. His efforts were unsuccessful.

Relying on N.J.A.C. 10A:3-6.6 and N.J.A.C. 10A:3-6.3, appellant now argues that the retention of these funds violated his right to a due process hearing, that prison authorities failed to properly notify him of the changes in policy concerning the receipt of funds from outside the prison.

We reject these arguments. Appellant's reliance on N.J.A.C. 10A:3-6.6 is misplaced. This regulation requires a disciplinary hearing before unauthorized funds in an inmate's possession can be permanently confiscated. The funds at issue here were intercepted by prison authorities before they reached appellant. The funds were thus not seized or confiscated in appellant's possession. N.J.A.C. 10A:3-6.3 is equally unavailing because that regulation pertains to seizure of an inmate's property when found within the prison facility.

Finally, appellant's arguments based on a lack of prior notice of the change in the policy at issue are not supported by the record. Prison authorities notified inmates by posting appropriate notices of the new policy in housing areas and other sections of the correctional facility in compliance with N.J.A.C. 10A:18-2.1.

Affirmed.

20100715

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