On appeal from the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 12, 2011
Before Judges C.L. Miniman and LeWinn.
Gezim Lita, an Albanian national, is an inmate at the South Woods State Prison, serving a ten-year sentence for aggravated manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4(a)(1), subject to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. He appeals from the August 4, 2010 decision of the Department of Corrections (DOC) denying his request to transfer to Albania and serve the balance of his sentence there. We affirm.
Appellant submitted his "transfer inquiry" on June 11, 2009, on a form promulgated by the Office of Interstate Services (OIS) within the DOC. On that form he listed his marital status as "single," stated that his parents lived in Albania, and requested transfer "due to visit[ation] hardship."
On October 22, 2009, the Passaic County Prosecutor sent a letter to the OIS, objecting to appellant's request for the following reasons:
. . . [I]n his psychological evaluation from [prison], it is noted . . . "[appellant] wants to return to Albania so that he can be near his wife and family."
[Appellant's] questionnaire, however . . . [,] lists his marital status as "single." In the attached pre-sentence report . . . it is likewise noted that "[appellant] stated that he is single and denied fathering any children." A review of the attached inmate visitor list reveals that [appellant] has been visited at [the prison] by his mother, father, uncle, nephew and three cousins, as well as four different friends.[*fn1 ] In the attached email . . ., it is even noted that "[appellant] said that his parents fly to the U.S.A. often to visit with him, that is why he wants the transfer."
If [appellant] were incarcerated for a substantially less serious offense, the State would still have significant concerns about [his] credibility, and the validity of his claimed visitation hardship. That said, [appellant] is not a low-level offender. Along with his co-defendants, [appellant] laid in wait for two would-be burglars of his place of employment . . . . After apprehending these men . . ., [appellant] shot and killed both of them. He, his brother and his cousin subsequently dumped the bodies, doused them with gasoline and set them afire - burning both of the victims beyond recognition.
It is only because of the purely circumstantial nature of the proofs in this case that [appellant] received so little punishment for such brutal crimes. [Appellant] has really only begun to serve his sentence, and I have little confidence that he will be required to fully satisfy it if his transfer request is granted.
It appears that appellant did not receive a copy of this letter nor was he informed of its contents.
On August 4, 2010, appellant received a letter, on DOC letterhead, signed by Nina Muse "Administrative Analyst II, Office of Interstate Services," stating:
Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 10A:10-6.7(b), the Commissioner of the [DOC] has denied your request for transfer under the provisions of the ...