Submitted: January 27, 2017
BEFORE: HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge, HONORABLE ANNE E.
COVEY, Judge, HONORABLE JOSEPH M. COSGROVE, Judge.
M. COSGROVE, JUDGE.
Whitaker (Appellant) appeals, pro se, from an Order
of the Court of Common Pleas of Northumberland County (trial
court), dismissing his civil complaint as frivolous pursuant
to Pa. R.C.P. No. 240(j)(1) (pertaining to filing in
forma pauperis). Upon review, we affirm.
is incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Coal
Township (SCI-Coal Township). His family sent photographs to
Photo Affections, a photograph printing company (Photo
Affections), which was instructed to develop the photographs
and forward them to him. (Certified Record (C.R.), Item No. 3
at 2.) When the photographs arrived at SCI-Coal Township, the
mailroom supervisor confiscated them as unpermitted articles
in contradiction of DC-ADM 803 policy (pertaining to incoming
mail and incoming publications). (C.R., Item No. 3, Exhibit
initial correspondence with Appellant (referred to as
"Unacceptable Correspondence notice"), SCI-Coal
Township notified him that the photographs were taken because
Photo Affections is not an approved vendor. The institution
also instructed Appellant to "send the [m]ailroom two
(2) signed cash slips and an addressed envelope/label to
return this unpermitted article [to Photo Affections].
ALL confiscated items will be held for 30 days and
then be destroyed." (Emphasis in original.) (C.R., Item
No. 3, Exhibit A.)
receipt of the Unacceptable Correspondence notice, Appellant
filed an inmate request to staff member (Inmate Request),
objecting to confiscation of the photographs, and asserting
that "an approved vender [sic] is not required by
Pennsylvania Code 37 Pa Code §93.2 [pertaining to inmate
correspondence] or DC-ADM 803(E.1.) at which such incoming
correspondence shall not be considered for for [sic] outside
purchase for the purpose of an approve [sic] vender [sic],
see [DC-]ADM-803(E.1.a) [pertaining to inmate mail and
incoming publications]." (C.R., Item No. 3, Exhibit B.)
The institution's response to the Inmate Request stated:
"Photo Affections are [sic] not permitted, not an
approved vendor per DC-ADM 815." Id.
thereafter filed an Official Inmate Grievance claiming that
his family members used Photo Affections because it was
convenient for them. (C.R., Item No. 3, Exhibit C.) Appellant
also stated that DC-ADM 803 permits inmate possession of
incoming photographs "where no criteria have been
violated in accordance with DC-ADM 803." Id. at
1. Appellant further claimed SCI-Coal Township "failed
to carry out the established procedures set forth in DC-ADM
803(E.2.f) where all photographs [are] viewed against
the criteria listed in Section E.3 [pertaining to review of
photographs] and…review and notify…[the inmate]
if the photographs meet the criteria of Section E.3, and deny
or approve it's [sic] entry into the institution."
Id. at 2.
Township denied Appellant's Official Inmate Grievance in
its Initial Review Response stating: "[a]ll mail is
processed according to Policy DC-ADM 803. Photographs were
received for you from a company named Photo Affections which
is not an approved vendor; therefore they were denied."
(C.R., Item No. 3, Exhibit D.)
filed an Appeal to Facility Grievance Manager asserting:
[DC-]ADM-815 Policy…may not be circumvented for the
denial of photographs pursuant to [DC-]ADM-803 Section 3,
E.1.a [pertaining to general procedures for incoming
publications]…[t]he photographs [Appellant] received
was in facts [sic] sent directly from the original source as
required by [DC-]ADM-803, Sec. 3, E.1.b.c.e….However,
the denial form/response by [the mailroom supervisor]
confirms that Photo Affections is in fact a company, giving
rise that the photographs was [sic] sent from an original
source as required by [DC-]ADM-803, sec. 3, E.1.b.e.f.g.
[Therefore, Appellant's] photographs must be permitted
pursuant to [DC-]ADM-803 policy, sec. 3, E.1 where no
violation of such criteria has been violated....
Item No. 3, Exhibit E at 1-2.)
Township filed its Facility Manager Appeal Response, and
upheld the Initial Review Response stating: "[y]ou are
interpreting the policy incorrectly…. Mailroom
[s]upervisor is very good at what she does and the rejection
of your photographs was in fact in accordance with
policy." (C.R., Item No. 3, Exhibit F.)
then filed an Inmate Appeal to Final Review and objected to
the Facility Manager Appeal Response upholding the Initial
Review Response and the "circumvention of [Department]
Policy, incorrectly denying [Appellant's] photographs
that meets [sic] the criteria of incoming mail of Section 3
of [DC-] ADM 803." (C.R., Item No. 3, Exhibit G.)
response, the Secretary of the Department of Corrections
(Department) issued a Remand Grievance in order to allow
SCI-Coal Township to "provide [Appellant] with a revised
response." (C.R., Item No. 3, Exhibit H.) Thereafter
SCI-Coal Township issued its Initial Review Response
(Reissued Response) denying Appellant's grievance and
stating, "prior to [this] remand, the Mailroom [at
SCI-Coal Township] destroyed the photographs because you did
not provide the cash slips within ...