Thursday, March 19, 2009

Amish Landowner Sentenced To Jail For Refusing To Comply With Sanitary Code

AP reported on Tuesday that a trial court in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania sentenced Andy Swartzentruber, a member of a conservative Amish sect, to 90 days in jail for refusing to comply with sewage code requirements in connection with two outhouses on property he owns. He was also fined $1000 for contempt. An Amish school, attended by 18 students, is located on Swartaentruber's property. The court also ordered it and the outhouses padlocked. In the long-running case, Swartzentruber had previously been fined $500 and ordered to stop dumping untreated sewage onto the ground by installing a holding tank and using a certified sewage hauler. (See prior posting.) Attempts at compromise have not been successful. While the Amish community is willing to pay for a permit, Swartzentruber has religious objections to permitting inspectors to take soil samples.

Reporting on the trial, the Johnstown (PA) Tribune-Democrat said that the judge's ruling seemed to stun members of the Amish community in attendance.The order to close the Amish school now poses the issue of how the Amish community will comply with the state's compulsory education requirements. After sentencing, Swartzentruber told the judge that he wants no TV or electricity in his cell. However the jail's warden said that Swartzentruber will be placed in a standard cell with electric lights.