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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 93695 Find in a Library
Title: Prisoners' First Amendment Rights Within the Institution
Author(s): R C Sanders; H B Kerper; G G Killinger; J C Watkins
Corporate Author: Sam Houston State University
Institute of Contemporary Corrections and the Behavioral Sciences
United States of Ameri
Date Published: 1970
Page Count: 113
Sponsoring Agency: Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX 77340
Texas Criminal Justice Council
Austin, TX 78767
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This l97l study of judicial intervention into prison administration and institutional restrictions on inmates' exercise of their first amendment rights concludes that the courts have abandoned their traditional 'hands off' policy and will review prisoners' complaints with increasing frequency.
Abstract: The monograph first discusses the historical basis of judicial reluctance to interfere in prison administration, the trend away from such nonintervention that emerged in the l960's, and procedural remedies available to prisoners to bring prison rules to the courts' attention. While prison officials generally see judicial intervention as synonymous with court involvement in their daily operational decisions, this study of prisoners' rights of freedoms of religion, speech, and petition as determined by the courts refutes this view. Primary sources of information included reference materials from the criminology, law, and corrections fields; copies of correctional institutions' rules; and questionnaires on rights and privileges afforded prisoners completed by 30 State departments of corrections and 4 Federal correctional institutions. Prisoners' petitions based on the writ of habeas corpus, mandamus proceedings, and the Civil Rights Act of l87l have been responsible for the increasing frequency of judicial intervention. Courts generally have held that restrictions placed on first amendment rights must be reasonable and implemented without discrimination. Furthermore, the judiciary has stated that when such preferred freedoms are completely suppressed, the standard used to judge such action will be greater than the one of reasonableness. The courts have upheld reasonable restrictions on religious practices and the exercise of free speech, but now are beginning to examine rules allowing censorship of mail and ones which impede prisoner petitions to courts. The increasing number of prisoners' petitions clearly indicates that correctional institutions must review their rules, design written policies, and implement a system for hearing prisoner complaints. A table of cases, footnotes, the questionnaire, a list of respondents, and over 40 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Court ordered institutional reform; Freedom of speech; Inmate lawsuits; Judicial decisions; Prisoner's rights; Religious freedom
Note: Criminal Justice Monograph, V 3, N 3
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