Are Prisoners Allowed to Wear Civilian Clothing ?
In Small v. Horn, 554 Pa. 600, 722 A.2d 664 (1998), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was presented, in part, with the issue of whether Department of Corrections (DOC) was required to comply with the requirements of the Commonwealth Documents Law and Regulatory Review Act when adopting a bulletin revoking permission for inmates to wear civilian clothing.
The Court held that DOC's bulletins are not regulations for purposes of the Commonwealth Documents Law or the Regulatory Review Act.
The Court, in reaching the holding, wrote that the bulletins "do not constitute regulations, but instead embody decisions that are inherently committed to the agency's discretion...." Small, 554 Pa. at 612, 772 A.2d at 670. the Court recognized that DOC's bulletins fit into a category of agency decisions that are inherently committed to the agency's sound discretion and that cannot reasonably be subjected to the "normal public participation process."
The Court wrote:
Because of the unique nature and requirements of the prison setting, imprisonment 'carries with it the circumscription or loss of many significant rights ... to accommodate a myriad of institutional needs ... chief among which is internal security.
Accordingly, DOC must enforce reasonable rules of internal prison management to ensure public safety and prison security.
These rules must be modified as conditions change, different security needs arise, and experience brings to light weaknesses in current security measures.
Where, as here, the measure has at most an incidental effect on the general public, it is reasonable to conclude that the Legislature did not intend the measure to be subjected to the 'normal participation process.' Small, 554 Pa. at 610-11, 722 A.2d at 669-70.