Credit for Time Spent In Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Facility
In Torres v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, 861 A.2d 394 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004), Torres was released on parole to a community corrections center, the Conewago-Wernersville inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, Wernersville State Hospital (Conewago).
Torres was released to Conewago on November 5, 2001.
On January 2, 2002, Torres left Conewago without notice or permission.
Torres was later sentenced to sixty days in the Northampton County Prison for possession of drug paraphernalia.
The Board recommitted Torres as a convicted parole violator and established his maximum date as February 24, 2004.
The Board did not credit Torres for any time spent at Conewago.
Torres appealed, and the Board held a hearing.
Torres and Brandi Koppenhaver, Conewago's executive director, described the restrictions on residents.
The record established that for the first forty-five days after a resident arrived at the facility, he was allowed to leave only to attend drug and alcohol rehabilitation or other authorized meetings and was driven to and from these meetings by Conewago staff.
After the initial forty-five day period, residents were allowed to leave for unsupervised work or for recreational or other purposes but had to inform Conewago staff of their whereabouts and when they were to return. Conewago had no fence, no internally locked doors, no window bars, no restraint devices, and residents could leave by pushing panic or pad bars on doors.
If a parolee left without permission, the parole agent was notified, and the parolee was treated as a technical parole violator.
The Board determined that Conewago's program was not equivalent to incarceration and denied him credit. the Board denied Torres's request for administrative relief. Torres, 861 A.2d at 395-396.
Torres petitioned for review with this Court.
The Court reversed to the extent that it denied credit for Torres for the forty-five days relating to the initial period at Conewago:
Under Cox it is not necessary that restrictions on Torres' liberty be identical to those that would exist at SCI-Camp Hill to conclude that he was not at liberty on parole.
Had that been the rule intended in Cox the court could have simply affirmed the Board's denial of credit, for it is unlikely that any inpatient drug and alcohol treatment program would be as restrictive in all respects as conditions found in a state prison.
Koppenhaver confirmed Torres' testimony that for the first forty-five days of treatment Torres was allowed to leave the premises only to attend meetings approved or ordered by Conewago; these trips occurred weekly and were under the supervision of Conewago staff.
After that initial period the conditions more resembled those analyzed in other cases. . . .
Based on a thorough review of case law, the Court concludes that credit must be afforded for the initial forty-five day period of time that Torres spent at Conewago.
Torres testified as follows regarding this initial period of time: 'It's like a state correctional facility because I'm over there with the state inmates another fellow and we don't go anywhere except inside the building-meetings.
We don't go anywhere else. Meetings outside the community are under staff supervision. It's 24/7 inside the facility.'. . .
The Board dismisses this testimony as 'self-serving,' but it was not rebutted and in fact was confirmed by Koppenhaver. the mandatory escort during this initial period plainly was intended as a coercive security measure and not merely as transportation assistance.
As the Supreme Court held in Cox, specific circumstances may constitute such restrictions on liberty as to require credit toward a sentence on recommitment. Although no formulation will apply to all potential individual circumstances, . . . ordinary restrictions such as those that attend many inpatient treatment programs are not so onerous as to require a credit.
The Court holds otherwise, however, when the restrictions upon a parolee become such that they destroy any sense of being 'at liberty on parole' and, consequently, meet the Cox standard.
Recognizing that courts must continue to examine the factual circumstances of each case, the Court nevertheless holds that a parolee who has been forbidden generally to leave a particular inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility for a specified period for which credit is sought, who is under 24-hour supervision during the specified period and who is not permitted to make required trips outside of the facility without an escort cannot reasonably be described as being 'at liberty on parole.' Torres, 861 A.2d at 400-401.