Since April, the Delco Coalition for Prison Reform (CPR) has been fighting along side members of the press to push the Delaware County Prison Board to comply with the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, the intent of which is to guarantee public participation in Commonwealth and local government decision making and to maintain faith by the public in the legislative and executive branches of government.
CPR sought the ability to video record the Board's meetings, held at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornton, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The Board has long operated in near secrecy. It is the only prison board in the state without any elected officials serving on it. Moreover, the Board has contracted with a for-profit company to make the Delaware County correctional facility Pennsylvania's only privately operated prison. Despite receiving a letter in August from the attorney for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association explaining that the Sunshine Act permitted the recording of such meetings, the Board refused to allow CPR members or reporters to bring cell phones or other recording equipment into its Board meetings.
McCausland Keen + Buckman shareholders Christine A. Reuther and Benjamin R. Picker provided pro bono legal services to CPR, calling on the Board to adopt an official written policy permitting video recording of Board meetings. As a result of MKB’s efforts, those attending the Board's meeting on Wednesday October 10, 2018, were free to bring cell phones to the meeting, record the meeting, and, depending on available network capacity, to even stream the proceedings on the Internet. MKB is hopeful that the Board will continue to comply with the Pennsylvania law.