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STEPHEN P. WATERS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (05/15/86)

decided: May 15, 1986.

STEPHEN P. WATERS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; CHARLES H. ZIMMERMAN, SUPERINTENDENT, GRATERFORD STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTE, AND MS. YOUNG, STATE LAW LIBRARIAN FOR GRATERFORD, RESPONDENTS. STEPHEN P. WATERS, PETITIONER V. CHARLES H. ZIMMERMAN, SUPERINTENDENT, GRATERFORD STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION; CURRY SHAW, PROPERTY OFFICER; THOMAS D. STACHELEK, DEPUTY FOR TREATMENT; STEPHEN R. LUCACH, DEPUTY FOR OPERATIONS; DAVID DIGUGLELMO, CLASSIFICATION AND TREATMENT MANAGER; DONALD VAUGHN, DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT, AND COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENTS



Original Jurisdiction in case of Stephen P. Waters v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Corrections; Charles H. Zimmerman, Superintendent, Graterford State Correctional Institute, and Ms. Young, State Law Librarian for Graterford, and in case of Stephen P. Waters v. Charles H. Zimmerman, Superintendent, Graterford State Correctional Institution; Curry Shaw, Property Officer; Thomas D. Stachelek, Deputy for Treatment; Stephen R. Lucach, Deputy for Operations; David Diguglelmo, Classification and Treatment Manager; Donald Vaughn, Deputy Superintendent, and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Bureau of Corrections.

COUNSEL

Stephen P. Waters, petitioner, for himself.

Gregory R. Neuhauser, Deputy Attorney General, with him, Allen C. Warshaw, Senior Deputy Attorney General, Chief, Litigation Section, for respondents.

Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri.

Author: Barbieri

[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 285]

Stephen P. Waters, petitioner, an inmate presently serving a sentence of life imprisonment at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford (SCI-Graterford), has commenced two actions in mandamus coming under our original jurisdiction*fn1 against the Department of Corrections (Department) and various officials of SCI-Graterford.*fn2 In one mandamus action, petitioner seeks a writ to compel the officials of SCI-Graterford and the Department, hereinafter referred to simply as respondents, to issue him writing implements and stationery free of charge so that he may pursue various lawsuits which he has pending. In the other mandamus action, he seeks to compel the respondents to permit him certain articles in his cell in the Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) at SCI-Graterford. Respondents have filed preliminary objections to both actions in which they argue that the petitioner has an adequate remedy at law and the actions about which he complains are discretionary actions of prison officials, both of which render mandamus inappropriate. It is respondents' preliminary objections which are before this Court at this time.

The following facts are pertinent. Petitioner commenced a civil action against the Department and various members of the institutional staff at SCI-Graterford in 1984. In that action, petitioner contended that the named respondents violated his right to self-representation by refusing to allow him to have a typewriter, personal law books, and other personal effects, with him in

[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 286]

    his cell in the RHU at SCI-Graterford.*fn3 Petitioner concedes that he requested to be housed in RHU on May 30, 1984. Preliminary objections to the complaint were filed on behalf of respondents and they remain pending at this time. Petitioner also sought appointment of counsel which was denied by this Court on the basis that his civil action fell outside the confines of Bronson v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, 491 Pa. 549, 421 A.2d 1021 (1980), cert. denied, 450 U.S. 1050 (1981). Petitioner appealed our order which denied him appointed counsel to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court which also refused his request for appointed counsel on July 11, 1985. He then filed for injunctive relief with this Court which was subsequently denied.

In 1985 petitioner commenced a second action in which he seeks a court order to compel the respondents to provide him with writing paper free of charge. The Department has a policy, as outlined in an Administrative Memorandum dated November 13, 1984 (Memorandum), of providing indigent inmates with postage and stationery for use in the preparation of legal documents. Under that policy, an indigent inmate shall, upon request, be provided with a pen and a reasonable amount of clean paper, not to exceed one hundred

[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 287]

    pages per lawsuit per month, and carbon paper, free of charge. The Memorandum defines an "indigent inmate" as follows:

Indigent Inmate -- For the purposes of this memorandum, an inmate shall be deemed indigent if the combined balances of his institutional account and any other accounts are $10.00 or less at all times during the thirty (30) days preceding the date on which the inmate submits a request to a person designated by the Superintendent. Any inmate who refuses available work, although he is physically able and not precluded from work by virtue of his housing status, is not indigent for the purposes of this memorandum and is not eligible for free stationary [sic] or to anticipate postage. Inmates who are self confined may also be considered as refusing available work although physically able as determined by the Program Review Committee. Any inmate who has funds in another account, which if deposited in his institutional account ...


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