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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 98-1520


Title 37-LAW


[37 PA. CODE CHS. 91 AND 93]

Administration and State Correctional Institutions and Facilities

[28 Pa.B. 4719]

   The Department of Corrections (Department) acting under the authority conferred upon it by The Administrative Code of 1929 (71 P. S. §§ 51--720.13) and Executive Order 1996-1 (4 Pa. Code §§ 1.371--1.382) and as required by 45 P. S. § 1201, hereby deletes its media relations regulations contained in § 91.5 (relating to media relations) and amends its regulations in § 93.3 (relating to inmate visiting privileges).

Background and Need for the Deletion and Amendments

   The Department's current media relations regulation establishes procedures that members of the news media must follow to interview inmates housed in State correctional institutions or community corrections centers. These procedures are more cumbersome than the procedures individual members of the public must follow to visit with inmates. For example, the current regulation requires members of the news media to explain the purpose of a proposed interview. Institutional superintendents then determine whether to permit the interview. The Department believes that review is inappropriate, unnecessary and potentially unconstitutional.

   The Department has grown tremendously since the media relations regulation was promulgated. This growth has made it increasingly difficult to have the media relations regulation applied uniformly among institutions. This inconsistency makes it difficult for members of the media to know the standards the Department will apply in a particular situation. Conversely, the Department finds that its inmate visitation policies are applied consistently. Accordingly, the Department now deletes its media relations regulation and amends its inmate visiting privileges regulation to enable members of the news media to communicate and visit with inmates under the same visitation policies which govern inmate communications with other members of the public.

   Amendment of the regulations is consistent with the provisions of Executive Order 1996-1. Specifically, the amendments are intended to improve the internal management of the Department in regard to inmate visitation and are not intended to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by a party against the Commonwealth, its agencies, its officers or any person. See 4 Pa. Code § 1.380(b) (relating to applicability).

Fiscal Impact

   Amendment of the media relations regulations is not expected to have any negative fiscal impact upon the Commonwealth, its political subdivisions or the general public.

Paperwork Requirements

   Amendment of the media relations regulations is expected to reduce paperwork for the Commonwealth and the general public. The Department does not expect the amendment to have any effect on the paperwork requirements of the Commonwealth's political subdivisions.

Regulatory Review

   Under section 5.1(a) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. §§ 745.5a(a)), on September 10, 1997, the Department submitted a copy of notice of proposed rulemaking, published at 27 Pa.B. 4832 (September 20, 1997) to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) the Chairpersons of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees for review and comment.

   The Department submitted a copy of the final-form regulations to IRRC and the Chairpersons of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees on June 22, 1998. In addition, the Department has provided IRRC and the Committees with a copy of a Regulatory Analysis Form prepared in compliance with Executive Order 1996-1, ''Regulatory Review and Promulgation.'' A copy of this material is available upon request.

   In preparing these final-form regulations, the Department has considered the comments received from IRRC. The Department did not receive any comments from the public or the Committees, except for comments from Senator Michael A. O'Pake. A Comment Response Document is available from the Department upon request.

   The final-form regulations were deemed approved by the House and Senate Committees on July 13, 1998. IRRC met on July 30, 1998, and approved the final-form regulation in accordance with section 5.1(e) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5a(e)). The Office of General Counsel and the Office of Attorney General approved the final-form regulations.

Statutory Authority

   The Department's authority to delete and amend regulations is contained in section 506 of The Administrative Code of 1929 (71 P. S. § 186).

Effective Date

   The deletion of the media relations regulation and the amendment of the inmate visiting privileges regulation shall be effective upon final publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Contact Person

   Interested persons are invited to submit written questions regarding the deletion and the amendment to Press Secretary Roger Baumgarten, Department of Corrections, 2520 Lisburn Road, P. O. Box 598, Camp Hill, PA 17001-0598.


   The Department finds that:

   (1)  Notice of proposed rulemaking was published at 27 Pa.B. 4832, as required by sections 201 and 202 of the act of July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) (45 P. S. §§ 1201 and 1202) and the regulations thereunder, 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.

   (2)  A public comment period was provided as required by law and no public comments were received by the Department for consideration.

   (3)  The adoption of this deletion and amendments in the manner provided by this order is necessary and appropriate for the administration of the Department.


   The Department orders that:

   (a)  The regulations of the Department, 37 Pa. Code Chapters 91 and 93, are amended by deleting § 91.5 and amending § 93.3 to read as set forth in Annex A, with ellipses referring to the existing text of the regulation.

   (b)  The Department shall submit this order and Annex A to the Office of General Counsel and to the Office of Attorney General for approval as required by law.

   (c)  The Secretary of Corrections shall certify this order and Annex A and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin as required by law.

   (d)  This order shall take effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.


   (Editor's Note: For the text of the order of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission relating to this document, see 28 Pa.B. 4007 (August 15, 1998).)

   Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note 19-2 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulations.

Annex A





§ 91.5.  (Reserved).



§ 93.3.  Inmate visiting privileges.

*      *      *      *      *

   (j)  Media representatives. Media representatives will have the same visiting privileges as visitors on an inmate's approved list of visitors as described in Department of Corrections' (Department) policy concerning inmate visitation. A media representative will not be in addition to the names on the approved list and will be counted against the total of 20.

   (1)  Upon request, media representatives will be provided with a copy of the Department's policy regarding inmate visitation.

   (2)  Media representatives and inmates will abide by all applicable rules, regulations and policies of the Department while on State correctional institution property. Violations of any rules, regulations or policies of the Department may result in the visit being denied, termination of the visit, suspension of visiting privileges or revocation of visiting privileges.

   (3)  Visits with media representatives shall be subject to the frequency of visit limitations contained in subsection (h)(4).

   (4)  For inmates under a sentence of death and prior to the Governor's warrant being issued, media representatives will only be permitted to have noncontact visits with an inmate. After the Governor's warrant has been issued, noncontact visits will only be entertained if the media representative has obtained an order of court of competent jurisdiction granting the relief and has properly served the Department with the court documents seeking or requesting the relief prior to obtaining the order.

   (5)  Media representatives for the purpose of this section include representatives of general circulation newspapers, magazines of general circulation sold through newsstands or mail subscriptions to the general public; National/international news services or radio/television stations holding a Federal Communications Commission license.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 98-1520. Filed for public inspection September 18, 1998, 9:00 a.m.]

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