Original jurisdiction in the case of Inmates of B-Block, and individually David Chacko; Daniel Delker; Terry Clay Fishel; Jerome Grant; Arthur Johnson; George Butler; Herbert Lindsey; Clarence Major; Benjamin Palmer; Kenneth Thurston and Kenneth Williams v. Glen R. Jeffes, Acting Commissioner of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corrections; Emmanuel C. Wicker, Acting Superintendent of the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon.
Richard G. Fishman, with him James P. Johnson, for petitioners.
Gregory R. Neuhauser, Deputy Attorney General, with him Allen C. Warshaw, Deputy Attorney General, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondents.
Judges Williams, Jr., Craig and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 277]
This case comes here after orders from this Court dismissing constitutional claims filed by the petitioners and granting their request for a writ of mandamus (by our order dated April 29, 1983) and subsequently modifying that order as well as denying a petition to hold respondents in contempt (by our order dated August 16, 1983).
The petitioners are inmates at the Huntingdon State Correctional Institution, which is a maximum security facility located in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. They are quartered in the Restrictive Housing Unit of the Institution, which is known as B-Block. They sought relief in a class action suit in this Court's original jurisdiction, contending that the respondents, the Commissioner of the State Bureau of Corrections and the Superintendent of the Huntingdon facility, denied them exercise time in violation of both federal and state law. After a hearing during which evidence was presented, this Court, in an order dated April 29, 1983, dismissed the State and Federal constitutional claims and granted a writ of mandamus, which specifically directed the respondents to submit to the court within sixty days of the order a plan that could afford the petitioners, within sixty days of the Court's receipt and approval of the plan, at least one hour of out-of-cell exercise daily, and which could, by the
[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 278]
end of 1983, bring the facility into full compliance with the mandate of Section 1 of the Act of June 14, 1923 (Act), P.L. 775, 61 P.S. § 101.*fn1 The respondents then petitioned us for a stay of the order, and we heard arguments, subsequently modifying the order in an order dated August 16, 1983, which required the respondents to submit in writing a specific and detailed plan setting forth the method by which they intended to comply with Section 1 of the Act, 61 P.S. § 101 no later than October 1, 1983 and to provide the petitioners with at least two hours of out-of-cell exercise time daily which should begin not later than January 1, 1984. The petitioners' application for contempt was by the same order denied without prejudice. The instant exceptions, filed by both parties, ensued.
The petitioners have filed a total of thirty exceptions. Inasmuch, however, as we will sustain the order granting the writ of mandamus, we believe that exceptions numbered one through twenty-one and twenty-three through twenty-seven need not be addressed here. Our careful review of the record indicates that they contemplate issues upon which the petitioners have already prevailed, and we will, therefore, deny them without further comment. We will, however, address exceptions numbered twenty-two and twenty-eight through thirty in seriatim.
The petitioners contend that the failure of the respondents to provide exercise for the B-Block inmates amounts to cruel and unusual*fn2 punishment under both the Pennsylvania and the United States Constitutions. In support, they cite to Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97
[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 279]
(1976), wherein the Supreme Court recognized a governmental obligation under the eighth amendment "to provide medical care for those whom it is punishing by incarceration," 429 U.S. at 103, but also recognized that "every claim by a prisoner that he has not received adequate medical treatment" is not a violation of the eighth amendment. Id. at 105. The Court then went on to conclude that "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners" constitutes a violation of the eighth amendment, 429 U.S. at 104. We must decide ...