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NCJ Number: 98089 Find in a Library
Title: Liberty Within Prison Walls as a Natural Right? Hewitt v Helms
Journal: New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement  Volume:11  Issue:1  Dated:(Winter 1985)  Pages:217-237
Author(s): M J Murphy
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 21
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: After a review of the U.S. Supreme Court's prior treatment of the prisoners' rights issue, the Hewitt v. Helms decision is discussed.
Abstract: In the Hewitt case, the Court determined the extent of a Pennsylvania inmate's right to remain among the general prison population. The Court found due process requirements were fulfilled by an informal review of the alleged misconduct held five days after the inmate's confinement in administrative segregation. The Hewitt decision locates the inmate's liberty interest in a Pennsylvania statute governing prison policy. In a dissenting opinion, Justice that all men are endowed with liberty by their creator and protected by the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, inmates should enjoy the same due process rights as free men. The courts have been quick to uphold the majority decision in subsequent cases. Under this interpretation, the inmate's rights are dependent upon the State of incarceration: liberty interests may be extensive, or they may not exist at all. A broader, stronger approach to the problem is needed to pinpoint protectable rights of inmates and to guide States in providing procedures to safeguard those rights. Stevens' dissent provides such an approach which submits that '... even an inmate retains an unalienable interest in liberty -- at the very minimum the right to be treated with dignity -- which the Constitution may never ignore.'
Index Term(s): Correctional reform; Corrections policies; Inmate discipline; Judicial decisions; Prisoner's rights; Right to Due Process; US Supreme Court decisions
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