Pa. inmate takes prison gripes to court

July 10, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Franklin County Prison inmate Brian Prins, shot by Pennsylvania State Police on May 2 after leading them on a high-speed chase, said Wednesday his prison rights have been violated.

At a three-hour hearing in Franklin County Court, continued from Monday, Prins, 29, of Ocean Side, N.Y., told the court he was denied kosher meals, clean underwear, soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and recreation time for a two-week period from June 23 to July 3.

Dressed in a prison-issued orange suit, Prins also claimed he was denied access to court since his requests for a pen and paper were refused and permission denied to use the prison's law library.


Judge William Kaye continued the hearing until 9:30 a.m. Sept. 5, therefore denying Prins' request to be released immediately from Franklin County Prison or be transferred to one closer to his home in Nassau County, N.Y.

He faces charges of grand larceny of the third degree and traffic violations in New York.

Prins has been an inmate at the prison since his arrest May 3, after police chased him for 20 to 30 minutes along Pa. 696 and Interstate 81. During the chase Prins rammed a police cruiser.

Prins was forced into the median strip about a half mile north of exit 8 in Greene Township and surrounded by cruisers. Police shot Prins in the right arm when he attempted to escape again by ramming more cruisers.

With his attorney David Keller present, prison Warden Ray Rosenberry took the stand testifying that he and his officers acted appropriately under the circumstances.

Rosenberry testified that Prins was denied the items because he was "disruptive."

At one time he threatened physical harm to an officer and declared war against the prison, Rosenberry said.

Prins also refused to be handcuffed for a routine cell inspection, Rosenberry said.

Judge Kaye told Prins that prison officials can deny inmates certain items if they don't cooperate.

"This isn't a country club you're in, it's a prison," he said.

Rosenberry added that inmate behavior determines their privileges.

Prins was not offered recreation because he was "disruptive," Rosenberry said.

In light of Prins' threats, throwing his food into the corridor, and "creating disturbances," Rosenberry said prison officials feared that if he had access to certain materials he would use them to create demonstrations or assault officers.

On June 24 or 25, Prins was offered the items but refused them, Rosenberry told the court.

The warden also testified that Prins has been getting the kosher meals he's requested, despite Prins' complaints that he had not been given a menu and has not been receiving a "nutritionally adequate diet of kosher food."

"There's nothing in the law that says you're entitled to a menu," Keller told Prins.

Though Prins cited a number of court cases referring to prisoners rights, Judge Kaye told him that he has been given no indication that Prins has received unusual treatment under the circumstances.

He refused Prins' request of a temporary restraining order against Rosenberry.

Prins said his New York attorney is planning an extradition hearing in August and requested the court reschedule the Sept. 5 hearing if he cannot appear.

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