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Constitutional law of corrections t crim372 first amendment

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  • 1. Dr. Alissa R. Ackerman University of Washington, Tacoma The First Amendment Inmate Mail Inmate Association Rights and Visiting Religion
  • 2. THE FIRST AMENDMENT
    • Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
  • 3. FREEDOM OF SPEECH
    • The freedoms of the First Amendment are extremely important to us, but these freedoms are not absolute.
    • There are restrictions and limitations
    • Restrictions apply to inmates and prison mail
  • 4. A BACKGROUND
      • 1960s – end of “hands off”
      • Surge of prisoner litigation
      • One main issue was correspondence
        • The main focus was mail sent between inmates and their friends and family outside the prison
      • Why?
      • Inmates – “our First Amendment rights are being violated”
      • Prison officials – “issues with security”
  • 5. SECURITY
    • Plans to escape
    • Money or maps that can be used in illegal ventures
    • Plans for other illegal activities
    • Inflammatory statements (racially based, possible riots)
    • Pornographic content
  • 6. CENSORSHIP
    • What is censorship?
    • Censorship refers to the act of officials who have the authority to remove objectionable content from printed or artistic material.
    • What does this refer to in prison?
      • Anything that compromises the security of the institution; References to future/and or past crime can be used in court
  • 7. WHAT DO OFFICIALS DO?
    • Do officials search all mail?
      • Search incoming mail for contraband
      • Identify inmates or groups who are of most concern and look closely at their mail
  • 8. “ SO WHAT?”
    • Inmates felt that certain rights provided within the First Amendment were violated.
    • Many cases have come before the courts and the decisions handed down regulate inmate access to mail.
  • 9. PROCUNIER V. MARTINEZ (1974)
    • California inmates were instructed not to write letters that magnified their grievances
    • Any writing expressing “inflammatory, racial, religious or other views” was considered contraband
    • Inmates could not send or receive letters that pertained to criminal activity, were lewd, obscene, or defamatory…or were otherwise inappropriate.
  • 10. PROCUNIER V. MARTINEZ (1974)
    • Inmates file class action lawsuit
    • First case where the SC addresses issues of inmates’ rights to be free from restrictions of their mail
    Class action lawsuit – a combined lawsuit brought on behalf of everyone who is in a similar situation. Saves time in the court; keeps costs down
  • 11. PROCUNIER V. MARTINEZ (1974)
    • “ When prison regulation or practice offends a fundamental constitutional guarantee, federal courts will discharge their duty to protect constitutional rights.”
    • Many lower courts were in disagreement with each other
    • SC noted that mail was, in fact, an aspect of prisoner litigation
      • Did not decide if a person’s right to free speech survives prisons
      • The person OUTSIDE has a First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech – but some restrictions are okay if they are “in furtherance of legitimate governmental activities”
  • 12. PROCUNIER V. MARTINEZ (1974)
    • SC issued guidelines for such cases:
      • “ Order and security” of penal institutions justifies the imposition of certain restraints on inmate correspondence.
        • “ Order and security” justify censorship
        • Censorship is justified when:
          • It furthers an important or substantial government interest unrelated to the suppression of expression
          • The limit of First Amendment freedoms must be no greater than is necessary or essential to the protection of the governmental issue involved
  • 13. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MAIL IS REJECTED?
    • Inmate must be notified when a letter is rejected
    • The inmate has an opportunity to protest the rejection
    • The protest is reviewed by someone other than the official who originally rejected the letter
  • 14. TURNER V. SAFLEY (1987)
    • Two Missouri regulations under review
      • Correspondence between inmates
        • Allowed between immediate family members in different institutions
        • Allowed between in mates for legal matters
      • Ban on inmate marriages
        • Marriages could lead to love triangles and did not carry any constitutional protection
  • 15. TURNER – ISSUE 1
    • SC says:
      • There must be a “valid, rational connection” between the regulation and the Gov. issue
      • A court must examine whether alternative means of exercising the right exist
      • What impact might this have on officers and other inmates
      • The absence of other remedies is evidence of the reasonableness of a regulation
  • 16. LET’S APPLY THIS…
    • Prison officials concerned that
    • Mail between prisons could be used to communicate escape plans, arrange assaults, and discuss retribution.
    • Growing concern about prison gangs
    • Additional risk on the safety of “protected inmates”
    • The court held the regulation valid!
      • Reasonably related to valid correctional goals.
  • 17. TURNER – ISSUE 2
    • Court disagreed with prison officials
      • The right to marry has been recognized as a fundamental right (see Zablocki v. Redhail, 1976)
    • Officials say – “a legitimate security and rehabilitation concern”
    • Court says – “several beneficial elements of marriage are sufficient to form a constitutionally protected marriage relationship.”
  • 18. TURNER - ISSUE 2
    • Decision handed down by the Court:
    • Missouri can regulate the time and place and other incidents of the marriage relationship
    • Missouri should follow BOP rule – warden can deny marriage only if it is found to constitute a threat to security or order to the prison or to public safety
  • 19. Correspondence in Foreign Languages
  • 20. FOREIGN LANGUAGE
    • Never decided by the Supreme Court
    • Addressed in the 8 th Circuit
    • Thongvanh v. Thalacker (1994)
      • Native of Laos
      • Spoke English, but some family members did not
  • 21. IOWA REGULATION
    • All correspondence, incoming or outgoing, must be in English
    • Thongvanh brings §1983 lawsuit
      • Violation of free speech, due process, and equal protection ~Trial jury awards him $4000
      • Appeals court affirms
        • There is a legitimate concern regarding mail, BUT officials had not shown why correspondence in Lao could not be translated and then checked
        • Important that Spanish-speaking inmates were exempt from the Iowa regulation
  • 22. APPLYING TURNER
    • First Amendment right of freedom of expression clearly violated
    • Limiting correspondence in Lao to inmate’s parents was arbitrary and not reasonably related to a governmental interest
    • Inmate not treated the same as others similarly situated
  • 23. KEY FACTOR HERE…
    • Official could obtain translations of correspondence in and out of Lao
    • BUT – the court did not address what obligation there was for prison officials to locate a translation service
      • How far must officials go?
      • How much should they pay?
  • 24. PUBLICATIONS WITHIN THE PRISON
    • Books
    • Magazines
    • Newspapers
    • Clippings from those materials
    In general – can receive “publications” from family members and by subscription
  • 25. BUREAU OF PRISONS
    • Had regulations that allowed inmates to receive publication from the outside
    • Could reject incoming publications that were “detrimental to the security, good order, or discipline of the institution, or if they might facilitate criminal activity.
    • Could NOT reject publications based solely on religious, political, social, or sexual content
  • 26. BUREAU OF PRISONS
    • What COULD be rejected:
    • Anything depicting weapons, ammunition, or bombs
    • Anything showing how to make an alcoholic beverage or how to manufacture drugs
    • Anything containing sexually explicit material that posed a threat to the safety of THAT institution:
      • Anything depicting homosexuality
      • Sado-masochism
      • Bestiality
  • 27. THORNBURGH V. ABBOTT (1989)
    • Addressed challenges to these regulations
    • Class action lawsuit brought by inmates and some publishers
      • There is a First Amendment interest in receiving and sending publications
    • SC – outgoing mail is not a great security concern
    • The rest of the regulation was considered valid – reasonably related to legitimate interests of the government
  • 28. BELL V. WOLFISH (1979) THE “PUBLISHER-ONLY” RULE
    • Addressed constitutionality of limiting receipt of books and magazines from the publisher
    • MANY other issues in this case that we will come back to
    • Prison officials justified regulation based on security concerns
      • Books and magazines too hard to inspect thoroughly and greatest threat of contraband comes from family members and friends sending such material
      • During litigation the BOP amended the regulation to allow inmates to receive soft covered books from family and friends
  • 29. NOW…
    • BOP ensures that all books INCLUDING magazines can only come into their facilities from the publisher.
  • 30. GIANO V. SENKOWSKI (1995) NUDE PHOTOS
    • GF sends 4 photos to inmate – 2 are semi-nude
    • Prison official took out those photos and put them with inmates personal belongings (to be returned upon release)
    • Court (2 nd Cir.) – officials must be given latitude to forestall violence
  • 31. MORE…
    • Pepperling v. Crist (1982) - 9 th Cir. – nude photos of wives or girlfriends are highly emotionally charged and often lean to violent altercations
    • Trapnell v. Riggsby (1980) – 7 th Cir. - highly emotionally charged material increases likelihood of violence
      • One man’s pornography is another’s keepsake
      • There are other links to a girlfriend or wife (i.e. letters and permissible photos)
  • 32. CHAPTER 8 – ASSOCIATION RIGHTS AND VISITATION
  • 33. THE FIRST AMENDMENT Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
  • 34. THE FIRST AMENDMENT
    • Where in the 1 st Amendment does it say freedom of association?
    • It doesn’t, but the Supreme Court has found such a right here. It applies to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment .
  • 35. ROBERTS V. UNITED STATES JAYCEES (1984)
    • Supreme Court finds two kinds of freedom of association protected by Constitution
      • The right of individuals to enter into and maintain intimate human relationships
        • Families and the need to protect them
      • The right to gather together (peaceable assembly) to engage in those activities specifically protected by the First Amendment
  • 36. JONES V. NORTH CAROLINA PRISONERS’ LABOR UNION (1977)
    • Inmates joined together to improve working conditions and to work towards changing policies of the DOC that the union did not approve of. It also served as “a vehicle for the presentation and resolution of inmate grievances.”
    • This was fine – until the union grew to over 2,000 people
  • 37.
    • The DOC prohibited the solicitation of new members, banned meetings in the prisons, and forbid bulk mailings about the union from outside sources.
    • The Union filed suit, seeking an injunction against enforcement of under §1983.
    • Trial court – regulation is unconstitutional in many respects
    • State takes direct appeal to Supreme Court
  • 38. SUPREME COURT RULING
    • The needs of prisons impose limitations on constitutional rights – even those found in the first amendment.
    • Courts must recognize the importance of the decisions provided by prison administrators
    • North Carolina’s approach is reasonable and constitutional
    • Preserving order is paramount
    • Other organizations, such as AA, are allowed to operate, because they are rehabilitative and in harmony with the goals and desires of prison administrators.
    • Prison is NOT a public forum!
  • 39. INMATES AND THE MEDIA
    • Pell v. Procunier (1974)
    • Saxbe v. Washing Post (1974)
  • 40. PELL V. PROCUNIER (1974)
    • No face-to-face interviews between individual inmates or media reporters
    • Inmates and media representatives argued that freedom of the press was guaranteed.
  • 41. PELL V. PROCUNIER (1974)
    • Supreme Court said:
    • other means of communication available:
      • sending and receiving mail with family, friends, and the media
    • When media representatives were invited for a tour of a facility, they could speak with any inmate that would speak with them. They cannot, however, request an interview with a specific inmate.
  • 42. SAXBE V. WASHING POST (1974)
    • The big-wheel theory – The B.O.P
    • High profile, notorious inmates will be spotlighted by the media
      • Repeated contacts with the media become a source of disciplinary problems throughout the prison
  • 43. INMATE VISITATION
    • Typically, inmates will be asked to list those individuals whom he would like to visit
    • The list is reviewed to see if there are individuals who would pose a problem
    • Sometimes, background investigations are conducted
  • 44. VISITATION
    • Two types: contact and non-contact
    • Non-contact visits are common in detention facilities
    • Main concern: contraband
  • 45. KENTUCKY DOC V. THOMPSON (1989)
    • Kentucky policy – excluded certain visitors
      • Those under influence of alcohol or drugs
      • Those with record of disruptive conduct
      • Those directly related to the inmate’s criminal conduct
      • Those whose presence presents a clear and present danger to the institution
      • The Kentucky State Reformatory at LaGrange also restricted former inmates and ex-employees