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KNUCKLES v. PRASSE

July 31, 1969

William E. KNUCKLES, Arthur L. McKee, Isaiah Green and Joseph Tillery, Plaintiffs,
v.
Arthur T. PRASSE, Commissioner of Correction, Joseph R. Brierley, Superintendent, State Correctional Institution, Philadelphia, and Alfred T. Rundle, Superintendent, State Correctional Institution, Graterford, Defendants. James WASHINGTON, Plaintiff, v. J. R. BRIERLEY, Superintendent, State Correctional Institution, Philadelphia, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HIGGINBOTHAM

 I.

 INTRODUCTION

 These two consolidated actions under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983, lead us into the difficult area where the exigencies of effective prison administration threaten to collide with those constitutionally protected freedoms assured all persons not in prison. Plaintiffs are five prisoners in the Pennsylvania State Correctional System. Knuckles, McKee, Green and Tillery were inmates at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, Pennsylvania (hereinafter referred to as "Graterford") during most of the time relevant hereto. Washington was an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (hereinafter referred to as "Philadelphia") during most of the time relevant hereto.

 The plaintiffs allege that they were:

 (1) Denied the right to practice their religion in violation of the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment; and

 (2) Denied the privilege of religious practice available to members of other faiths in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; and P(3) Harrassed and punished with particular harshness because of their religious beliefs in violation of the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment; and

 (4) Subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

 After careful consideration of plaintiffs' allegations, I appointed Walter L. Foulke, Esquire to represent them. Mr. Foulke represented the plaintiffs with commendable diligence by both a most meticulous preparation and an effective presentation at considerable time, effort and costs. Apparently, the law firm, with which he was then associated, Drinker, Biddle & Reath, absorbed the financial costs in this matter.

 A six day hearing produced some 925 pages of testimony and ninety exhibits. Extensive briefs and proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law were submitted, and there was subsequent oral argument.

 Prior to oral argument, plaintiffs filed additional actions naming Clarence R. Wolfe and David N. Meyers as defendants. These actions were identical to the above-captioned actions and were filed in the apparent belief that the testimony taken in the hearing revealed the direct responsibility of these two men for the alleged wrongdoings. Wolfe and Meyers were present during the entire hearing and were satisfied that their interests were fully represented by counsel for the Commonwealth. They therefore agreed to be joined as defendants in these actions and to be considered as though they had been defendants from the outset. Plaintiffs, in return, agreed to dismiss the additional actions against Wolfe and Meyers. Some time after the hearing and oral argument, Mr. Foulke joined the staff of the Philadelphia District Attorney, and I reassigned plaintiffs' cases to Morris R. Brooke, Esquire, who had been associated with Mr. Foulke in their preparation.

 I further find that after the Graterford incident, plaintiffs were subjected to cruel and unusual punishment from the morning of May 23, 1966, until the afternoon of May 25, 1966 in violation of the Eighth Amendment, but since it does not appear that this unfortunate two and one-half day practice has been or will be continued, injunctive relief is DENIED.

 A final decree is held in abeyance for thirty (30) days so that counsel may explore, and hopefully stipulate to, specific methods for affording relief to plaintiffs consistent with this opinion.

 II.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Plaintiffs in Civil Action No. 41,170, are William E. Knuckles (C4410), Arthur L. McKee (H3683), Isaiah James Green (E9329), and Joseph Tillery (H5318).

 2. Plaintiff in Civil Action No. 42,445, is James Washington.

 3. Defendant, Arthur T. Prasse, at all times relevant hereto was Commissioner of the Bureau of Corrections of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He is qualified as an expert in prison administration, penology and corrections.

 4. Defendant, David N. Meyers, from before May 1966 until 12:00 A.M., May 25, 1966, was Superintendent at Graterford. He is qualified as an expert in prison administration, penology, and corrections.

 5. Defendant, Clarence R. Wolfe, was Deputy Superintendent at Graterford, and in that position he was directly responsible for disciplinary proceedings and the administration of the maximum security cell block. He is qualified as an expert in prison administration, penology, and corrections.

 6. Defendant, Joseph R. Brierly, at all times relevant hereto was Deputy Superintendent, and thereafter until now was, and is, Superintendent at Philadelphia. He is qualified as an expert in prison administration, penology, and corrections.

 7. Defendant, Alfred T. Rundle, from 1961 through May 25, 1966, was Superintendent at Philadelphia, and thereafter was, and is, the Superintendent at Graterford. He is qualified as an expert in prison administration, penology, and corrections.

 8. From before May, 1966, to the present, all of the plaintiffs have been and are followers of the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

 9. The followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, often called Muslims or Black Muslims, are a sect of the Islamic Religion, and for purposes of the issues before the court are recognized as members of a bona fide religion. In their brief, defendants stated:

 
"For the purposes of these actions, it is admitted that Black Muslimism is a 'religion' as that term is used in the United States Constitution."
 
(P. 3, Brief for Defendants.)

 10. At all times relevant hereto, the defendant prison officials in the prisons under their control and direction did not permit the Muslims to

 
(a) congregate for prayer meetings or services;
 
(b) have the assistance and counselling of a Muslim minister;
 
(c) subscribe to Muslim periodicals;
 
(d) receive certain Muslim books;
 
(e) correspond with Muslim ministers or with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad;
 
(f) receive and wear Muslim medals; or
 
(g) have special dietary programs consistent with their religious beliefs.

 11. The policy outlined in paragraph 10 is followed primarily because defendants believe that the presence and activities of Muslims in prison creates a dangerous situation.

 12. The Muslim religion forbids adherents from eating pork, pork products, or food which has been cooked in or mixed with pork or pork products.

 13. The Holy Qur'an is the central book of the Muslim religion and contains its basic teachings and principles.

 14. Followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad prefer the edition of the Holy Qur'an which contains both the Arabic and ...


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