Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of Gerald Jackson et al. v. Edward J. Hendrick et al., No. 2437 February Term, 1971.
Kenneth S. Gallant, Assistant District Attorney, with him Eric B. Henson, Deputy District Attorney for appellant/intervening appellant, Edward G. Rendell, District Attorney of Philadelphia County.
David Rudovsky, Kairys, Rudovsky & Maguigan, with him Donald Bronstein and John A. Beck, for appellees, Gerald Jackson et al.
John M. Myers, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor, with him Jonathan K. Stubbs, Assistant City Solicitor, Richard J. Gold, Chief Assistant City Solicitor, Alan J. Davis, City Solicitor, and Tama Clark, for appellants, Edward J. Hendrick et al., and the City of Philadelphia.
Edward A. Aguilar, Special Master for Prisons.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers, Blatt, Craig and Doyle. Opinion by Judge Doyle. Judge Williams, Jr. did not participate in the decision in this case.
The District Attorney and the City of Philadelphia appeal from the orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County denying the City's Exceptions to the Decrees Nisi entered and denying the District Attorney's Petition to Intervene in this case.
This litigation began in 1971 when five prisoners (Plaintiffs) in the Philadelphia Prison System filed a class action in equity seeking injunctive relief from conditions of confinement which allegedly violated their constitutional and statutory rights. The case was assigned to a three judge panel of the court of common pleas which, on April 7, 1972, after a lengthy hearing,*fn1 issued a 264 page opinion and decree nisi. The court found that various conditions in the City prisons violated both statutory and constitutional rights and constituted cruel and unusual punishment. The decree ordered the city officials named as defendants*fn2 to take such immediate action to improve conditions as was feasible and ordered appointment of a Special Master to oversee long-term improvements in prison conditions.
Exceptions to the decree were dismissed and the City appealed to this Court. We affirmed the findings and conclusions of the court of common pleas and affirmed the grant of relief except as to the appointment of a Special Master. Hendrick v. Jackson, 10 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 392, 309 A.2d 187 (1973). Plaintiffs sought allocatur on the issue of relief and the Supreme
Court reinstated the order for the appointment of the master. Jackson v. Hendrick, 457 Pa. 405, 321 A.2d 603 (1974).
In 1976, the court of common pleas issued a remedial decree which ordered that a maximum capacity be established for the prison system not to exceed the number of usuable cells and dormitory areas, and ordered the release of persons held in default of $1,500 bail or less in order to maintain population levels at no greater than the maximum capacity established. On appeal, we affirmed the order per curiam. Jackson v. Hendrick, (No. 1385 C.D. 1976, filed October 17, 1977).
Thereafter, Plaintiffs and the City entered into a series of consent decrees establishing a population capacity for the City's prison system and providing for maintenance of the prison population by release of inmates in a certain classification.*fn3 The consent agreements also provided that prior to the release of any person the District Attorney be afforded the opportunity to be heard on whether the release would be harmful to the public safety ...