pretrial detainees are presumed to be innocent. For the most part, they are in custody only because they lack the resources to provide some other acceptable assurance that they will appear for trial when summoned. Thus, with respect to the vast majority of pretrial detainees, the deterrence, rehabilitation, and quarantine justifications referred to in Pell do not apply. It is reasonable to assume that some of the pretrial detainees in the Philadelphia Prison System (all of them, theoretically, located in Holmesburg Prison) are in custody because they were denied bail altogether, or subject to high bail, on a finding that they represent potential dangers to the community. As to these inmates, the quarantine rationale would be applicable.
Thus, it can be argued that, of all societal interests which were found in Pell to outweigh the First Amendment rights of prisoners, the only one which can properly be considered in balancing the interests of most pretrial detainees is society's interest in maintaining prison security. But this somewhat overstates the matter. The Court in Pell was not addressing itself specifically to the situation of pretrial detainees, and therefore had no occasion to discuss all of the factors which might be pertinent to the balancing process in such cases. Society does presumably have an interest in seeing to it that persons charged with crime appear for trial when summoned. If, pursuant to preliminary legal proceedings, it is determined that imprisonment to insure attendance is called for, then it would seem to follow that society has a legitimate interest in maintaining the detainee in custody. In short, for purposes of assessing the validity of prison regulations, courts must assume that the inmates are lawfully incarcerated.
It appears to be generally recognized that unsentenced prisoners cannot be required to perform uncompensated labor. Cf., U.S. ex rel. Fidtler v. Hendricks, 497 F.2d 794 (3d Cir. 1974). But there can be no doubt that an unsentenced prisoner, like any other prisoner, may properly be deprived of many of the ordinary rights and privileges of free men.
It is unnecessary in the present case to attempt to define the limits of the restrictions which may properly be imposed upon unsentenced prisoners, or the extent (if any) to which additional restrictions upon unsentenced prisoners may be justified by reason of their incarceration in the same institution with sentenced prisoners. In the Philadelphia Prison System, individual press interviews are permitted, irrespective of whether the inmate is a pretrial detainee or a sentenced convict. And, while the Pell and Saxbe decisions were not concerned with pretrial detainees, I am entirely satisfied that the Supreme Court would not strike down a restriction against group press conferences by inmates even though unsentenced. The "prison security" rationale may be less compelling in the case of unsentenced detainees, but it surely retains enough force to justify the very slight restriction upon First Amendment rights represented by proscription of group press conferences.
The more difficult question in the present case arises from the suggestion of censorship which may be gleaned from the evidence. However, I have concluded that judicial intervention is not required at this time, for the following reasons. In the first place, while Superintendent Aytch did state that he would permit press conferences on some issues, and not on others, it is not clear that any such distinctions would necessarily be attempted in the case of individual interviews. In the second place, the defendant may merely have chosen unfortunate language in attempting to express his concern with problems of prison security.
Finally, and most importantly, the intervening decisions in the Pell and Saxbe cases now make it clear that such censorship is not permissible. There is no reason to doubt that the defendant, whose policies on the subject of prisoner-press dealings are obviously much more enlightened than the minimum standards sanctioned by the Supreme Court, will fail to abide by the Court's guidelines on the question of censorship.
My conclusions may therefore be summarized as follows: Plaintiffs have failed to establish that prison inmates, whether sentenced or unsentenced, have a constitutional right to hold group press conferences. Plaintiffs have likewise failed to establish the existence of any policy or practice of prohibiting individual interviews between prison inmates and representatives of the news media. And plaintiffs have failed to establish a need for injunctive relief to prevent impermissible censorship of press interviews, since it is unlikely that such censorship will occur hereafter. Therefore, this action must be dismissed.
AND NOW, this 29th day of October, 1974, it is ORDERED that the Complaint is DISMISSED and judgment entered in favor of the defendant.