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Stum v. Thompson

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

April 24, 2017

STEPHANIE STUM, Plaintiff
v.
BRIAN THOMPSON, Superintendent of SCI Mercer, and MICHELLE WAGNER, Corrections Classification and Program Manager of SCI Mercer, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Robert C. Mitchell United States Magistrate Judge.

         The above captioned case came on for hearing on April 24, 2017 on Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief preventing the defendants from denying her request to marry a prison inmate.

         Pursuant to Rule 65 (a)(2) the parties have agreed that the trial on the merits be advanced into these proceedings. Following the hearing and review of the documents of record, we make the following:

         FINDINGS OF FACT:

         1. Stephanie Stum, an unmarried woman over the age of 18 who wants to marry Wayne Black-Rhoden, an inmate in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (“DOC”) currently housed at the State Correctional Institution at Mercer (“SCI Mercer”).

         2. Mr. Black-Rhoden is an unmarried man over the age of 18 and is a legal permanent resident of the United States having emigrated from Costa Rica as a teenager.

         3. Ms. Stum, who lives in Cumberland County, visits Mr. Black-Rhoden at SCI Mercer twice a month. They speak on the phone daily and frequently write to one another.

         4. Ms. Stum and Mr. Black-Rhoden seek to marry each other.

         5. Mr. Black-Rhoden pleaded nolo contendere to charges of statutory sexual assault and corruption of a minor in February 2016. The victim was Ms. Stum's sister, who was fifteen years of age at the time of the crime. He was sentenced to one to two years imprisonment to be followed by four years' probation.

         6. Mr. Black-Rhoden entered Department of Correction ("DOC") custody in March 2016 and has been housed at SCI Mercer since May 2016.

         7. Since entering DOC custody, he has had no misconducts.

         8. The DOC recommended that Mr. Black-Rhoden complete the following: a Sex Offender Program Evaluation, a Sex Offender Low Intensity Program, and Thinking for a Change program at the institution.

         9. Mr. Black-Rhoden completed the Sex Offender Program Evaluation on May 24, 2016; he completed the Thinking for a Change Program which is a 25-session program that utilizes cognitive restructuring and social skills interventions as methods of changing criminal thinking, on September 20, 2016.

         10. The DOC offers two types of sexual treatment programming based on the Medlin Responsible Living curriculum, one for low-risk offenders and another for moderate-to-high risk offenders. The sexual treatment program for low-risk offenders is referred to as low intensity.

         11. The curriculum for sexual treatment programming for low-risk offenders uses three phases of the Medlin program while the curriculum for moderate-to-high risk offenders uses seven phases of the Medlin program.

         12. The low-intensity sexual treatment programming generally takes about eight months for inmates to complete.

         13. Inmates in the low-intensity program meet in group counseling sessions for approximately two hours each week and complete homework.

         14 Mr. Black-Rhoden has been participating in the Sex Offender Low Intensity Program at SCI Mercer since November 2016 and is scheduled to complete the program on June 19, 2017.

         15. SCI Mercer staff has recommended that Mr. Black-Rhoden be granted parole once he completes the sexual treatment program.

         16. Under Pennsylvania law, Mr. Black-Rhoden must complete a sexual treatment program to be eligible for parole. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 9718.1.

         17. Mr. Black Rhoden is scheduled to meet with the Parole Board in July 2017.

         18. James Harrington, a regional licensed psychologist manager with the DOC, testified that the primary purpose of the sexual treatment program is to prevent individuals from re-offending.

         19. The Department of Corrections has a legitimate penological interest in requiring inmates convicted of sex offenses to participate in sexual treatment programming.

         20. The DOC has a policy governing inmate marriage which is set forth in DC-ADM 821 and an inmate may not ...


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