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M. A. JAMAL v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (11/09/88)

decided: November 9, 1988.

M. A. JAMAL, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT



Original Jurisdiction in the case of M. A. Jamal v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Corrections.

COUNSEL

M. A. Jamal, petitioner, for himself.

Janice L. Anderson, Deputy Attorney General, with her, John G. Knorr, III, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Chief Litigation Section, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondent.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr. Judge MacPhail did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Crumlish

[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 43]

The Department of Corrections (Department) preliminarily objects to Mumia Abu Jamal's (Jamal) petition for review.

We discern the following from Jamal's pro se petition. The Department's Publications Review Committee disapproved his receipt of a weekly newspaper, The Revolutionary Worker, during his incarceration at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon. Jamal further avers that he exhausted his administrative remedy before the Department's Central Office Review Committee, which upheld the decision.

Jamal's petition does not challenge the substantive bases for the Department's decision. Rather, Jamal avers only that the Department failed to render its decision within the time prescribed in a Bureau of Corrections Administrative Directive, BC-ADM 814, 37 Pa. Code § 93.5(c), which provides that the Department "will rule on publications within 10 days after the material is received." The petition further sets forth a general averment that the Department's actions violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution's guarantees

[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 44]

    of "free communication of thoughts and opinions," Pa. Const. art. I, § 7, and protection from discrimination, Pa. Const. art. I, § 26. Finally, the petition avers that the Department's administrative appeal bodies routinely ignore their procedural rules.

Jamal requests, inter alia, the following relief: (a) reversal of the Department's decision and release of the newspapers; (b) mandamus directing the Department to obey its rules and directives; (c) a declaration that the Department violated its directives, statutes and constitutional provisions; (d) an injunction prohibiting future violations; and (e) restoration of the fair market value of the prohibited materials.

The Department's preliminary objections contend that this Court erred in construing the petition as addressed to our original jurisdiction*fn1 because it is actually an appeal of the Department's decision. The Department alternatively contends ...


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