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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 72313 Find in a Library
Title: Cry of Wolfish in the Federal Courts - The Future of Federal Judicial Intervention in Prison Administration
Journal: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology  Volume:71  Issue:3  Dated:(Fall 1980)  Pages:211-225
Author(s): I P Robbins
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 15
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the lower Federal court decisions rendered since the Bell v. Wolfish Supreme Court decision to determine whether judicial relief remains available in the Federal system for prisoners' claims.
Abstract: In Bell v. Wolfish, the United States Supreme Court held that, with respect to conditions or restrictions having no specific constitutional source for protection, a pretrial detainee in a Federal correctional center has the right to be free from any punitive conditions or restrictions during detention. The Court further held that all of the challenged practices and conditions were valid because they were rationally related to the legitimate nonpunitive purposes of the detention center. Thus, a correctional facility could prohibit receipt of books and magazines, limit gift packages, and conduct room searches and strip searches. Apart from its impact on the rights of detainees, Wolfish has virtually blocked any potential expansion of prisoners' rights by the Supreme Court. The number of proinstitution cases and the few proinmate decisions since then suggest that the Federal courts are adhering to the Wolfish decision. The reluctance to intrude on prison management and the acquiescence in the prisons' withdrawal of important interests was deep-seated in prisoner cases prior to Wolfish. With the exception of some eighth amendment claims, few of the complaints are substantial constitutional violations. Wolfish has weighted the constitutional balancing test in favor the institutional interests, but the decisions do not yet indicate a willingness to ignore the facts before the courts. Thus, the courts have not yet bestowed upon the prisons' asserted justifications the presumptive validity that Wolfish seemed to invite. A total of 181 footnotes accompany the article. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Correctional reform; Corrections management; Inmate grievances; Judicial decisions; Prisoner's rights; US Supreme Court
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