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PEIFFER PETITION. (11/16/60)

November 16, 1960

PEIFFER PETITION.


Appeal, No. 291, Oct. T., 1960, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County, Dec. T., 1959, No. 281 1/2, in re petition of Mrs. Betty J. Peiffer for transfer of Russell A. Peiffer, her husband, to the Lebanon County Jail. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Russell A. Peiffer, appellant, in propria persona.

James R. Whitman, District Attorney, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, Watkins, and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Woodside

[ 193 Pa. Super. Page 477]

OPINION BY WOODSIDE, J.

Russell A. Peiffer, the appellant, is serving his second year of a 6 to 12 year sentence in the State Correctional Institution at Philadelphia, known prior to the Act of October 22, 1959, P.L. 1356, 71 P.S. § 301, as Eastern State Penitentiary. His wife, who resides in Lebanon County with their two children, presented a petition to the Court of Common Pleas of that county, praying that the court direct the transfer of her husband to the Lebanon County Jail. The court refused the prayer on the ground it had no jurisdiction to order the transfer. The prisoner appealed. Although he had no standing to appeal from the order made on his wife's petition, we shall follow the district attorney's suggestion and refrain from quashing the appeal.

The prisoner's brief argues that both his and his wife's constitutional rights are being denied by his imprisonment in Philadelphia, because his wife is living in Lebanon County on public assistance and cannot afford to travel to Philadelphia to visit him. A prisoner has no constitutional right to imprisonment near his family, nor does the wife of a prisoner have a constitutional right to have her husband imprisoned in the penal institution most convenient to her.

[ 193 Pa. Super. Page 478]

President Judge RHODES, speaking for this Court in Commonwealth ex rel. Radziewicz v. Burke, 169 Pa. Superior Ct. 263, 267, 82 A.2d 252 (1951) said: "A convict has no constitutional or other inherent right to serve his imprisonment in any particular institution or type of institution. He merely has the right to insist upon compliance with statutory provisions."

There is no doubt that the legislature has exclusive power to determine the penological system of the Commonwealth. Commonwealth ex rel. Banks v. Cain, 345 Pa. 581, 587, 28 A.2d 897 (1942). This includes the power to determine the manner in which prisoners are assigned to and transferred between penal institutions. The legislature created the office of Deputy Commissioner for Treatment in the Bureau of Corrections, and invested in that office the power to assign and transfer prisoners of state penal institutions. See Act of July 29, 1953, P.L. 1428, 71 P.S. § 303. The legislature, having designated an executive officer to determine the assignment and transfer of prisoners, intended that the courts should not make such transfers. The court below was correct in holding that it was without legal authority to direct a transfer of the prisoner in this case.

The institution where a particular prisoner can best be rehabilitated depends upon many circumstances. A prisoner may be assigned or transferred to a particular penal institution because he should be separated from companions who may delay his rehabilitation, or because he requires close custody or is entitled to the relative freedom of a minimum security institution, or because he must be protected from his enemies, or because he can receive better treatment for an illness, or because certain prison employment or education should be made ...


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