The opinion of the court was delivered by: BY THE COURT; MARVIN KATZ
AND NOW, this 23rd day of February, 1994, upon consideration of Defendants' Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment, it is hereby ORDERED that the defendants' motion is DENIED.
This action seeks the opportunity to practice the religion of an Islamic sect in a penal institution.
The pro se
plaintiff, Minister Michael Malik Allah ("Minister Allah"), is an inmate at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford ("Graterford"). The defendants are Father Francis Menei ("Father Menei"), Central Administrator of Religion and Family Services for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and Chaplain Edward Neiderheiser ("Chaplain Neiderheiser"), Graterford's Institutional Chaplaincy Programs Director. Compl. p. 3.
On June 15, 1993, Minister Allah, as a representative of twenty-four (24) Graterford inmates, submitted a memorandum style letter (the "Memorandum") to William R. Winder, a Graterford Deputy Superintendent. Compl., Ex. Mem. Letter to William Winder (June 15, 1993). The Memorandum sought the establishment of "a religious organization under Muhammads [sic] Temple of Islam faith within this institution." Id. The Memorandum, which was attached to the instant Complaint, requested that the members of Muhammad's Temple of Islam (the "Temple of Islam") be afforded opportunities to practice their faith separate from, but consistent with, the opportunities offered Graterford's other religious communities, including the Nation of Islam. Id. Specifically, the Memorandum requested supplies
and "approval for the attendance of a spiritual leader (Minister) from the outside community during Friday service and the community nights here at the institution."
Id. at 2. Minister Allah identified Minister Al Muntaquin Ali ("Minister Ali") as a leader of the Temple of Islam from the outside community. Id. at 4; Pl.'s letter to the court (docketed as Document 10). The Memorandum sets forth a list of the Temple of Islam's practices.
Minister Allah submitted similar written requests to Graterford Deputy Superintendent Thomas Stachelek on June 23 and June 26, 1993. Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. E, P. In response to the Memorandum and the requests directed to Deputy Superintendent Stachelek, prison officials informed Minister Allah that prison regulations required him to meet with Chaplain Neiderheiser to review Pennsylvania Department of Correction procedures regarding recognition of faiths that are not well known. Id.
The operative regulation is Pennsylvania Bureau of Correction BC-ADM 819 Administrative Directive, Religious Activities (the "Religion Directive"). The Religion Directive's stated purpose is to "establish general guidelines for institutional religious activities" and it details prison procedure regarding inmate access to chapel facilities, accoutrements, literature, special foods and religious advisors from the outside community. The Recognition of Faiths section of the Religion Directive provides:
VIII. RECOGNITION OF FAITHS:
A. Requests for recognition of faiths that are not well known will be handled as follows:
1. Institutional official will secure information from the recognized outside faith group authority, including publications which describe the goals, beliefs and practices of the group.
2. All such information material will be forwarded to the Director of Chaplaincy Services for the Bureau who will determine the authenticity and religious needs of the group.
Defendants maintain that the plaintiff and his supporters have failed to provide the appropriate prison officials with the information required by the Recognition of Faiths section and, consequently, are not entitled to the recognition and separate privileges they seek.
See Defs.' Mot. for Summary Judgment p. 5, 8; Defs.' Renewed Mot. for Summ. J. p. 1.
On October 22, 1993, Chaplain Neiderheiser sent a letter to Minister Ali stating that the materials submitted by the plaintiff and his other supporters were insufficient to warrant recognition. The letter further states that the "Department Directives require the following as noted in Father ...