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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. PARKER v. PATTON (09/19/73)

decided: September 19, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. PARKER, APPELLANT,
v.
PATTON



Appeals from order of Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Dec. T., 1972, No. 543, in re Andrew Parker, a minor; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ex rel. Andrew Parker v. Ernest Patton, Superintendent, State Correctional Institution.

COUNSEL

Eugene A. Kestenbaum, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

Stephen B. Harris, First Assistant District Attorney, with him Kenneth G. Biehn, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs. Hoffman, Spaulding, Cercone, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Cercone, J.

Author: Cercone

[ 225 Pa. Super. Page 218]

This is an appeal from the Order of the Juvenile Court of Bucks County committing Andrew Parker, juvenile, to the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill (Camp Hill), on the ground that Camp Hill no longer qualifies as a place for commitment of delinquent children under the Juvenile Act, Act of December 6, 1972, P. L. [ILLEGIBLE WORD], No. 333 (11 P.S. 50-101 et seq.) which became effective as of February 6, 1973. The record of this case leaves no doubt that Parker is a

[ 225 Pa. Super. Page 219]

    juvenile delinquent and we shall not dwell upon this phase of the case.*fn1

The debate that rages over Camp Hill is reminiscent of Mark Twain's observation that, "Everybody talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it." The judges of our Commonwealth fret and worry over the problems of commitment of delinquent juveniles in an institutional facility best able to provide the programs for the rehabilitation of these juveniles and where they are not susceptible to the views and influences of the allegedly more hardened adult criminals. Although with statistics showing more and more that a greater percentage of crimes is being committed by juveniles, it is difficult to say which category of criminals is to be safeguarded from the others. There is no institution presently in existence in Pennsylvania in which these objectives sought by our legislature, courts and by society can be completely and categorically accomplished. Without further legislative assistance in the solution of this problem our courts will continue to be hampered in their efforts to provide the kind of rehabilitation program indicated in the Juvenile Act of 1972, supra. That Act includes among other objectives the supervision, care, and rehabilitation of delinquent juveniles in "a family environment whenever possible." This last phrase is a doleful reminder of the impossibility of achieving this kind of environment in any institutional facility now in existence in Pennsylvania.

[ 225 Pa. Super. Page 220]

What the law requires the law should provide tools for accomplishing. Section 25 of the Act provides that the delinquent child might be committed to any "special facility for children operated by the Department of Justice." Since there is no other facility in existence under this category except Camp Hill, the Act necessarily refers to Camp Hill. However, it is Section 27 which creates the difficulty facing our courts when considering Camp Hill. This Section 27 of the Juvenile Act provides in part:

"A. A child shall not be committed or transferred to a penal institution or other facility used primarily for the execution of sentences of adults convicted of a crime, unless there is no other appropriate facility available, in which case the child shall be kept separate and apart from such adults at all times."

A "child" within the meaning of the Juvenile Act is a person under the age of 18 years or one under the age of 21 who committed an act of delinquency before he reached the age of ...


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