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Abdul Haqq Salaam v. Department of Corrections

March 16, 2012

ABDUL HAQQ SALAAM, 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NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION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 January 23, 2012

Before Judges Grall and Alvarez.

Abdul Haqq Salaam, a New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) inmate serving a sentence of life without parole, appeals from a final administrative decision issued by respondent, New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) on March 18, 2010. The DOC denied Salaam's request to remove two other inmates, Timothy Strickland and Shawn Brown, from "keep separate status" (KSS). See N.J.A.C. 10A:3-2.1 to -2.5. We affirm.

A KSS may be instituted by a prison administrator so long as necessary "for maintenance of security and the orderly operation of the correctional facility." N.J.A.C. 10A:3-2.2(a). It is designed to keep potential conflicts to a minimum through the physical separation of prisoners. The only actual prison document regarding those on Salaam's KSS list is included in the State's appendix. The KSS lists three names and was instituted in 2000.

We note initially that although the notice of appeal raises the issue of the KSS of Brown and Strickland, Salaam's brief is virtually silent as to Brown. He does not explain why he appeals the continuance of Brown's KSS status. The State's brief is also virtually silent as to Brown. Salaam does not appeal the KSS of the third individual also on his 2000 list.

Salaam alleges the KSS status was imposed as retaliation by prison authorities for a civil rights lawsuit he instituted in 2002. As we have said, the computer printout in the State's appendix listing the three inmates on Salaam's KSS list, including Strickland and Brown, indicates it was generated in 2000.

On March 11, 2008, Salaam submitted an inmate remedy system form, requesting that the KSS be removed as he alleged he had never met Brown or Strickland, did not know them, and had never sought to have them kept separate from him. The request was denied on March 17, 2008.

On May 17, 2008, Salaam wrote to the Public Advocate's Assistant Ombudsman complaining that the KSS was retaliatory in nature and imposed as a result of his 2002 filings. On May 30, 2008, the Ombudsman declined to take action because the March 17, 2008 NJSP administration response complied with N.J.A.C. 10A:3-2.4 (setting out how any staff person may recommend the removal of the KSS).

On June 5, 2008, Salaam then wrote to the DOC's Acting Deputy Commissioner requesting assistance for the removal of the KSS. On July 1, 2008, the Acting Assistant Commissioner responded that he would not intercede on Salaam's behalf because all proper administrative steps had been taken.

On March 5, 2010, Salaam submitted another inmate remedy system form seeking to have the DOC remove the KSS as to Strickland only. On this form, Salaam asserted that Strickland was a "prisoner['s] rights advocate" and that Salaam wished to avail himself of Strickland's articles regarding the "prison industrial complex in the US & NJ." In response, the NJSP administration indicated that "[k]eep separates are not implemented for the purpose of retaliation," nor were they removed simply because one of the inmates left state custody. The administration also pointed out that despite the presence of the KSS, in the absence of the prisoner, "nothing occurs . . . ."

On March 16, 2010, Salaam administratively appealed the decision, ...


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