On January 24, 2011, the Superior Court handed down a decision holding that county IPP plans may not arbitrarily ban certain types of defendants from the program if the defendants have not been made ineligible by the Legislature.
In Sarapa, the defendant had been sentenced to ninety days to 23 months for her plea to DUI-highest rate and her second DUI in ten years even though the court noted that she was otherwise eligible for county intermediate punishment based upon the relevant statute.
The county IPP had excluded all DUI offenders from being eligble forIPP in that county. The defendant contended that such a provision usurped the Legislature’s role in statutority determining eligiblity requirements. Thus, she contended that “a county does not have the authority, beyond that conferred by statute, to restrict access to IPP, and the trial court herein had the ability to sentence her to an IPPsentence regardless of the county policy prohibiting DUI offenders from seeking the benefit of the program.”
The court pointed out that the whole purpose of IPP programs was help to re-integrate offenders back into the community by providing services “’which enhance their ability to become contributing members of the community.’”
After an analysis of the types of crimes that were prohibiting of participation, and noting that the powers granted to the county did not include adjusting statutorily estabished eligibility criteria, the court pointed out the irony of excluding, based on county policy, the very types of person IPP was designed to help:
“Certainly, one of the principal purposes behind the Act was to target drug and alcohol offenders and provide a means of rehabilitating those offenders while at the same time alleviating prison population issues. To permit a county to precluding all DUI offenders from a program that the legislature specifically created with such defendants in mind would contravene the purpose of that legislation. Moreover, local ordinances and local rules are subordinate to legislative enactments. See Commonwealth v. Bryant, 341 Pa. Super. 123, 491 A.2d 181, 186 n.2 (Pa.Super. 1985) (citing Turner v. May Corp., 285 Pa. Super. 241, 427 A.2d 203, 204 n.1 (Pa.Super. 1981)). Therefore, a local policy cannot supersede a legislative dictate.”