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WEST SHORE SCHOOL DISTRICT AND TOWNSHIP LOWER ALLEN v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/07/74)

decided: October 7, 1974.

THE WEST SHORE SCHOOL DISTRICT AND THE TOWNSHIP OF LOWER ALLEN, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, MILTON J. SHAPP, GOVERNOR; ISRAEL PACKEL, ATTORNEY GENERAL; ALLYN R. SIELAFF, COMMISSIONER OF BUREAU OF CORRECTION; STEWART H. WERNER, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF BUREAU OF CORRECTION; ERNEST S. PATTON, SUPERINTENDENT, STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT CAMP HILL, PENNSYLVANIA, DEFENDANTS



Original jurisdiction in case of The West Shore School District and the Township of Lower Allen v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Milton J. Shapp, Governor; Israel Packel, Attorney General; Allyn R. Sielaff, Commissioner of Bureau of Correction; Stewart H. Werner, Deputy Commissioner of Bureau of Correction; Ernest S. Patton, Superintendent, State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.

COUNSEL

Robert E. Yetter, with him Metzger, Wickersham, Knauss & Erb, for plaintiffs.

J. Andrew Smyser, Deputy Attorney General, with him Benjamin Lerner, Deputy Attorney General, and Israel Packel, Attorney General, for defendants.

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

Author: Wilkinson

[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 244]

This is an action in equity brought in our original jurisdiction. The plaintiffs seek an injunction to restrain the defendants from placing inmates outside the fenced area of the State Correctional Institution at

[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 245]

Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, to reside in what might be characterized as a "trailer camp." This trailer camp is more precisely defined as a Community Related Center and is designed for those inmates of the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill who have obtained prerelease status as defined by the Bureau of Correction, Administrative Directive No. 805, duly approved by the Attorney General and filed with the Legislative Reference Bureau on March 21, 1973. These actions were taken pursuant to the authority and mandate of the Legislature in the Act of July 16, 1968, P.L. 351, as amended, 61 P.S. § 1051, which provides in Section 1: "The Bureau of Correction, Department of Justice, shall have the power and its duty shall be to establish with the approval of the Governor such prisoner pre-release centers at such locations throughout the Commonwealth as it may deem necessary to carry out effective prisoner pre-release programs therefrom."

Some 100 pages of testimony were offered. However, the facts are not in dispute. The trailers, formerly used as part of the forestry camp program, are to be located outside the secured area of the Correctional Institution out of the view of the towers. Initially, it is anticipated that 10 inmates will become residents and the population gradually will be built up to 48. The doors of the trailers will face inward. There may be only one unarmed guard on duty at night. The trailers will be located in an R-1 Residential District with dwellings as close as 200 yards and an elementary school as near as perhaps one-half mile.

The witnesses for the plaintiffs testified that property values would be reduced and that the transfer of the inmates to become residents in this program constituted a real and present threat to their lives and property.

The testimony of the defendants was that while they could not guarantee that no untoward incident would

[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 246]

    occur, every proper step was being taken to select only those inmates who were appropriate to the program. Although the witnesses for the plaintiffs feel strongly that the program is fundamentally unsound, nevertheless, the Legislature has mandated it. From the testimony, it is clear that ...


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