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decided: August 31, 1973.


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of Gerald Jackson, a/k/a Gerald Day; Charles S. Beaufort; Emanuel Gardner; Anthony Sanders, a Minor, by Alice Sanders, his guardian; and William Respass; on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated v. Edward J. Hendrick, individually and as Superintendent of Philadelphia Prisons; James H. J. Tate, individually and as Mayor of the City of Philadelphia; Paul D'Ortona, William F. Boyle, Edgar C. Campbell, Sr., Edward R. Cantor, Thomas M. Foglietta, John B. Kelly, Jr., Thatcher Longstreth, William Cottrell, William A. Cibotti, Charles L. Durham, George X. Schwartz, Thomas McIntosh, Joseph L. Zazyczny, Harry P. Jannotti, David Cohen, Isadore H. Bellis, David Silver, individually and as members of the City Council of the City of Philadelphia; Randolph E. Wise, individually and as Welfare Commissioner; Daniel B. Mitchie, Jr., Paul A. Rafferty, Charles P. Mirarchi, Jr., Arthur W. Thomas, A. Charles Peruto, individually and as members of the Board of Trustees of Philadelphia Prisons; Joseph McGowen, Warden of Holmesburg Prison; John B. McGuire, Warden of Eastern State Penitentiary; Patrick Curran, Warden of the Detention Center; Louis Aytch, Warden of the House of Correction; City of Philadelphia; No. 2437, February Term, 1971.


John Mattioni, Deputy City Solicitor, with him Howard D. Scher, Assistant City Solicitor, S. Jay Sklar, Assistant City Solicitor, and Martin Weinberg, City Solicitor, for appellants.

David Rudovsky, with him Kairys & Rudovsky, Bruce E. Endy and Joseph Wenk, Community Legal Services, Inc., for appellees.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.

Author: Bowman

[ 10 Pa. Commw. Page 394]

There are two basic issues raised in this appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, which decreed that the Philadelphia prison system as it is presently being operated is in violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment in its treatment of its inmates and detainees.

In deciding whether or not the lower court erred as a matter of law in concluding that the present prison conditions constitute a violation of Eighth Amendment rights, we do so within the scope of our review. In a recent decision, this Court exhaustively considered this issue. The scope of review is limited to manifest error or clear abuse of discretion. If there is sufficient evidence

[ 10 Pa. Commw. Page 395]

    to justify the findings and if reasonable inferences and conclusions are derived therefrom, the Chancellor's decision will stand. Ross v. Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, 8 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 204, 301 A.2d 405 (1973).

A careful review of the record below indicates that the extensive findings of fact are based on substantial evidence and thus will be sustained. As Judge Spaeth, one of the three hearing judges, points out in his opinion at page 4: ". . . on every important matter there is little or no disagreement, and often the evidence in support of a particular finding is overwhelming."

Having found that there is sufficient evidence to support the findings of fact, the next consideration is whether or not those conditions found to exist constitute, as a matter of law, a violation of the Eighth Amendment.

The leading Pennsylvania decision in this area is Commonwealth ex rel. Bryant v. Hendrick, 444 Pa. 83, 280 A.2d 110 (1971). Although the Bryant appeal resulted from the granting of habeas corpus relief and this case has arisen in equity, Bryant is controlling in the instant case on the issue of what facts constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court in Bryant cites with approval and relies on Holt v. Sarver, 309 F. Supp. 362 (E.D. Ark. 1970), aff'd, 442 F. 2d 304 (1971), on the Eighth Amendment constitutional issue. Holt, like the instant case, was a class action in equity involving a fact situation similar to both Bryant and the case at bar. Since the Supreme Court has approved the Holt decision as regards Eighth Amendment principles and that case arose in equity, Bryant is, therefore, directly applicable here.

In Bryant, supra, the Court, quoting the lower court, states at 93, 280 A.2d at 115: ". . . petitioners have been imprisoned in overcrowded, poorly equipped, wet, badly ventilated, and verminous cells." And at pages

[ 10 Pa. Commw. Page 39694]

and 95 of its opinion, 280 A.2d at 115-16, the Court discusses the inadequate medical care, threat of assault, both sexual and otherwise, in ...

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