Paulina Gutierrez 3B
January 6, 2013
Due Process vs. Justice “Should the courts freed convicted felons for violations to due process?”
The hands-off doctrine dominated thinking about correctional law in America during the 19th century. American courts regarded inmates as “slaves of the state.” Judges believed prisoners had no rights because they had forfeited them as a result of their crimes, and judges didn't interfere with the administration of correctional institutions because they didn't want to violate the principle of separation of power (in other words, the courts didn't want to interfere with the authority of the executive branch to administer prisons). *
During the 1960s and 1970s, the courts moved away from the hands-off doctrine and acknowledged that courts have a duty to resolve constitutional claims of prisoners. The assertiveness of Black Muslim prisoners in making claims upon the courts and the activist Warren Court's commitment to protecting the rights of minorities, including persons accused of crimes and persons convicted of crimes, caused this shift. In addition, several legal developments also led to the temporary demise of the hands-off doctrine. In Monroe v. Pape (1961), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that citizens could bring Section 1983 suits against state officials in federal courts without first exhausting all state judicial remedies. Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which imposes civil liability on any person who deprives another of constitutional rights, became a vehicle inmates could use to challenge the constitutionality of the conditions of prison life. In another significant case, Robinson v. California (1962), the Court extended the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment to the states. Today, the Court recognizes that prisoners do have certain rights. At the same time, however, the Court holds that prisoners do have fewer rights than free citizens because taking away rights is a legitimate punishment and because the restriction of rights is necessary to maintain security in prisons. The current trend is back to the hands-off doctrine, with the Rehnquist Court granting correctional officials considerable discretion to decide what restrictions should be placed on inmates. The right to free speech
The First Amendment provides in part that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Since 1970, the federal and state courts have extended the right of freedom of speech and expression to inmates, requiring correctional administrators to justify restrictions on these rights. In Procunier v. Martinez (1974), prisoners challenged the constitutionality of state regulations covering censorship of prisoner mail on the grounds that they violated the prisoners' free-speech rights. One rule banned letters containing inmates' criticisms of prison conditions. Striking down the state regulations as unconstitutional, the Supreme Court set forth two requirements for future efforts to regulate communications of prisoners. First, restrictions on speech must be justified as being necessary for maintaining security or some other substantial governmental interest. Second, the rules can't stop inmate communications any more than is necessary to protect important governmental interests. The right to freedom of association
Another right protected by the First Amendment is freedom of association. In Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Labor Union (1977), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of restrictions on the activities of a prisoner labor union. The right to freedom of religion
Another First Amendment right upon which much prisoners' litigation has concentrated is freedom of religion. The Supreme Court has declared that inmates do have the right to freedom of religion and that prison authorities must provide inmates opportunities to practice their religious faith. The right of access to the...