AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Corrections Law for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities
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Prison Rules & Regulations
order requiring inmate workers to stop speaking Spanish and converse only
in English while working did not violate prisoner's constitutional rights.
The supervisor's concern for her own safety if workers spoke a language
on the job that she did not understand was legitimate, and was rationally
related to the order given. The inmates working there could still communicate
with each other in English, and did not prevent them from using Spanish
at other times. Allah v. Poole, No. 05-CV-6050, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 59574
Federal Bureau of Prisons regulation, contained in 28 C.F.R. Sec. 541.13, tbl. 3, Code 203, prohibiting threats of bodily harm to any person is not void for vagueness. A disciplinary hearing properly found that the prisoner violated the regulation by approaching the female unit manager with a "loud and boisterous" tone of voice, and had "stepped towards her" every time he spoke. This determination could properly rely on the prisoner's mannerisms, movements, size, and tone of voice. The appeals court noted that prison regulations are not judged on the same strict standards as criminal statutes, and found that the prisoner should have known that he was violating the disciplinary rules, given his actions and size. Estrada v. Williamson, No. 06-3278, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 16691 (3rd Cir.).
A rule which provided that prisoners could only possess mess hall equipment in the mess hall was not vague, and provided adequate notice that an inmate violated the rule by possessing personal photographs in the mess hall. Court also rules that another rule was adequate to provide the prisoner with notice that he was limited to the use of one hair tie to secure his hair in a ponytail. Vigliotti v. Carpenter, 791 N.Y.S.2d 696 (A.D. Dept. 3 2005). [N/R]
Prisoner who repeatedly refused to comply with a prison rule concerning storage of his personal property when he left his cell was not subjected to cruel and unusual punishment when he missed 75 showers and between 300-350 meals in an 18-month period as a consequence of his defiance. Appeals court reasoned that the prisoner punished himself, knowing that the consequence of failing to comply with the rule, which he did not challenge the validity of, was being barred from leaving his cell to take showers or go to the cafeteria. Rodriguez v. Briley, No. 04-1554, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 6152 (7th Cir.). [2005 JB Jun]
A disciplinary rule which prohibits prisoners from leading or participating in work-stoppages, sit-ins, or other actions deemed detrimental to institutional order was not improperly vague when used to punish prisoner who orchestrated a protest over some inmates being prevented from going to a religious service. Garrett v. Goord, 788 N.Y.S.2d 461 (A.D. 3rd Dept. 2005).[N/R]
Prison rule prohibiting the spreading of "rumors" about prison staff members was unconstitutionally vague and was improperly used to punish a prisoner for communicating the contents of his grievance to his mother, who subsequently advertised its contents on the Internet in order to seek legal counsel for him. Cassels v. Stalder, No. CIV.A.03-0709-D-M2, 342 F. Supp. 2d 555 (M.D. La. 2004). [2005 JB Mar]
Establishment of new guidelines governing security classifications, work release, and family leave were not unconstitutional "ex post facto" laws increasing prisoners' punishment retroactively. They were not laws, but merely guidelines promulgated as an exercise of discretion and correctional officials had the authority to modify them. Watkins v. Secretary, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, No. 118, 831 A.2d 1079 (Md. 2003). [N/R]
Prison rule prohibiting noncompliance with designated boundaries and schedules of living units and work assignments was sufficient to provide prisoner with adequate notice that his action in returning to the dining hall to eat a second breakfast when he was supposed to go to a medical area for a blood test was a violation of the rule. Court rejects prisoners due process challenge to discipline based on this rule violation. Nelson v. Hayden, No. 28031, 67 P.3d 98 (Idaho App. 2003). [N/R]
New York prison's disciplinary rule prohibiting inmates from physically or verbally obstructing or harassing prison employees was not unconstitutionally vague, since a reasonable person would conclude that the prisoner's action in throwing a liquid substance on a corrections officer, even if it was only water, was prohibited. Mitchell v. Fischer, 752 N.Y.S.2d 97 (A.D. 2002). [N/R]
278:19 End of twenty-year policy allowing prisoners to have typewriters and word processors did not violate inmate rights; access to pen and paper was adequate for access to the courts. Roberts v. Cohn, 63 F. Supp. 2d 921 (N.D. Ind. 1999).
279:42 Prison rule prohibiting religious services in unauthorized areas did not provide Muslim prisoner with adequate notice that his conduct of silent, individual, demonstrative prayer in recreation yard would be a violation of the rule for which he could be disciplined; Attorneys' fee cap of Prison Litigation Reform Act applied despite the fact that the lawsuit was filed before the statute's enactment; $73,694.36 in fees and costs awarded. Chatin v. Coombe, Nos. 98-2484, 98-2556, 186 F.3d 82 (2nd Cir. 1999).
267:44 Update: appeals court, acting en banc, overturns panel decision that rule prohibiting prisoners from threatening prison employees with legal redress during confrontations was facially invalid under the First Amendment; prisoner could not facially challenge rule when his disciplinary conviction for violation of the rule had not been set aside. Clarke v. Stalder, #96-30313, 154 F.3d 186 (5th Cir. 1998).
269:73 Illinois prisoner was not entitled to access to a copy of Department of Correction's administrative directives; revealing such directives could pose a danger to institutional safety and security. Romero v. O'Sullivan, 707 N.E.2d 986 (Ill. App. 1999).
271:100 Prison policy banning inmate possession of music tapes with "parental warning" label concerning explicit lyrics did not violate prisoners' First Amendment rights. Herlein v. Higgins, No. 98-2271, 172 F.3d 1089 (8th Cir. 1999).
259:104 Rule prohibiting prisoners from threatening prison employees with legal redress during confrontational situations was facially invalid under the First Amendment, federal appeals court panel rules; rehearing by full appeals court granted. Clarke v. Stalder, 121 F.3d 222 (5th Cir.), rehearing en banc granted, 133 F.3d 940 (5th Cir. 1997).
239:168 Prison regulation forbidding long hair served legitimate interests in security, allocation of resources, and health and safety; Texas appeals court rejects challenge to regulation based on prisoner's desire to maintain his "individuality" and grow his hair in a manner flattering to him and which would compensate for hereditary hair loss. Morris v. Collins, 916 S.W.2d 527 (Tex. App. 1995).
220:53 Ohio correctional department was immune from liability for prisoner's suit challenging prison regulation prohibiting masturbation; decision to ban masturbation was a "basic policy decision" characterized by the exercise of a "high degree" of discretion. Rodgers v. Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction, 91 Ohio App. 3d 565, 632 N.E.2d 1355 (1993), reported 1994.
222:91 Prohibition on possession of gang-related materials, including newspaper articles, did not violate prisoner's constitutional rights. Bryson v. Iowa District Court, 515 N.W.2d 10 (Iowa 1994).
225:135 Texas state law did not allow inmate to sue correctional officials for alleged negligent failure to enforce rules against excessive noise; suit was properly dismissed as frivolous. Johnson v. Kinney, 893 S.W.2d 271 (Tex. App. 1995).
Prison's hair length regulation was reasonably related to legitimate penological interests. Dillon v. Russell, 621 N.E.2d 491 (Ohio App. 1993).
Court upholds prison rules restricting prisoner access to music tapes which advocate violence, long fingernails on male inmates, and the wearing of certain hairstyles thought to be gang-related. Betts v. McCaughtry, 827 F. Sup. 1400 (W.D. Wis. 1993).
Use of prison regulation prohibiting unauthorized groups to punish prisoners who circulated a petition protesting prison conditions was a violation of constitutional due process when the regulation made no reference to petition circulating and past practice was to allow such activity; prison officials, however, were entitled to a qualified immunity from money damages; 100 % enhancement of attorneys' fee award to plaintiffs overturned. Wolfel v. Morris, 972 F.2d 712 (6th Cir. 1992).
Holding a hearing only after a prisoner has finished being subjected to "dry cell/feces watch" violated due process, but prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity from liability since no prior cases "clearly established" the law on the subject. Mendoza v. Blodgett, 960 F.2d 1425 (9th Cir. 1992).
Inmate's claim that prison policy prohibiting his possession of noncommercial nude photographs violated his First Amendment rights should not have been dismissed without a hearing. Thomas v. Scully, 943 F.2d 259 (2nd Cir. 1991).
Prison rule prohibiting inmate from playing state lottery did not violate his constitutional rights. Hatch v. Sharp, 919 F.2d 1266 (7th Cir. 1990).
Prison could prohibit possession AM/FM radios in order to avoid security risk of inmates picking up broadcasts by prison personnel and state police. Mason v. Clark, 920 F.2d 493 (8th Cir. 1990).
Regulation prohibiting inmate from acting as a reporter for a newspaper while incarcerated did not violate his free speech rights. Martin v. Rison, 741 F.Supp. 1406 (N.D. Cal. 1990).
Rule prohibiting possession of FM radios which could be modified to monitor or jam prison security communications upheld as legitimate. Flowers v. Sullivan, 545 N.Y.S.2d 289 (A.D. 1989).
Failure of inmates to extricate themselves from blockaded dormitory when ordered to do so was not a violation of regulation prohibiting disruptive behavior. Read v. OSCI, 783 P.2d 27 (Or. App. 1989).
Rule prohibiting conduct which "disrupts or interferes" with the "orderly running of the institution" was not void for vagueness. Leonard v. State, 442 N.W.2d 274 (Iowa App. 1989).
Court orders further proceedings on whether prohibition of display of nude photos in cells violates constitution. Lovell v. Superintendent, N. Cent. Corr. Inst., 26 Mass. App. Ct. 35, 523 N.E.2d 268 (1988).
Prison officials can refuse to recognize inmate's marriage performed by Chaplain. Ferrin v. N.Y. St. Dept. of Correction, 508 N.Y.S.2d 271 (A.D. 3 Dept. 1986).
Inmate serving life sentence can not enter valid marriage in New York; denied conjugal visits. Ferris v. Dept. of Correctional Services, 517 N.E.2d 1370 (N.Y. 1987).
Regulations restricting use of inmate funds to support of dependents and commissary purchases were reasonable. Meis v. Grammer, 411 N.W.2d 355 (Neb. 1987).
Unsworn memorandum of attorney insufficient to show that prison rule prohibiting talking in line necessary for prison discipline. Montgomery v. Kelly, 661 F.Supp. 1051 (W.D.N.Y. 1987).
Maine's statute prohibiting trafficking in prison contraband was not unconstitutionally vague. Drebelbis v. Town of Bristol, 520 A.2d 709 (Me. 1987).
Prisoner's social security disability benefits can be suspended if he is not involved in a rehabilitation program. Smith v. Gosh, 653 F.Supp. 846 (W.D. Wis. 1987).
Prison rule proscribing gang activity found unconstitutionally vague; prison officials not entitled to qualified immunity for disciplining inmate pursuant to vague rule. Rios v. Lane, 812 F.2d 1032 (7th Cir. 1987).
New York's highest court rules prison officials cannot force new inmate to cut his hair. People v. Lewis, 510 N.Y.S.2d 73 (Ct. App. 1986).
Court rules on "tight celling," food, laundry, and newspaper access afforded at county jail in Mississippi, Green v. Ferrell, 801 F.2d 765 (5th Cir. 1986).
Medical reasons not grounds to violate shaving rules. Shabazz v. Barnauskas, 790 F.2d 1536 (11th Cir. 1986).
Federal circuit court in Pennsylvania reverses Cole case and refuses to allow long hair due to increased homosexual problems, among other reasons. Cole v. Flick, 124 (3rd Cir. 1985).
Prisoners cannot use colored blankets. Deflumer v. Dalsheim, 495 N.Y.S.2d 70, (A.D. 2 Dept. 1985).
Federal Court refuses to decide whether pre-trial detainees must wear prison uniforms to court. Wilson v. DeBruyn, 633 F.Supp. 1222 (W.D.N.Y. 1986).
Regulation on treating employees upheld. Gibbs v. King, 779 F.2d 1040 (5th Cir. 1986).
Using coupons in place of money not a constitutional violation. Department of Corrections v. Piccirillo, 474 So.2d 1199 (Fla. App. 1985).
Inmate claims he is placed in danger by shutting own cell doors. Davidson v. Scully, 488 N.Y.S.2d 243 (A.D. 2 Dept. 1985).
Mail and marriage rules unconstitutional. Safley v. Turner, 777 F.2d 1307 (8th Cir. 1985).
Independent Journalist Properly denied admittance. Jersawitz v. Hanberry, 610 F.Supp. 535 (D.C. Ga. 1985).
10-year sentence for bringing alcohol to prison too harsh a punishment. Wooten v. State, 702 P.2d 59 (Okla. Cr. 1985).
O.K. to feed court-appointed counsel. Davidson v. Scully, 483 N.Y.S.2d 81 (A.D. 2 Dept. 1984).
No right to marriage when serving life sentence. Miner v. N.Y.S. Dept. of Corr. Serv., 479 N.Y.S.2d 703 (Dutchess Co., 1984).
Blanket prohibition of nude photographs of wives invalid. Pepperling v. Risley, 739 F.2d 443 (9th Cir. 1984).
Inmates must shave beard for I.D. photographs. Phillips v. Coughlin, 586 F.Supp. 1281 (S.D.N.Y. 1984).
No right to force inmate to cut hair. Cole v. Fulcomer, 588 F.Supp. 772 (M.D. Pa. 1984); Furgan v. Ga. State Bd. of Offender Rehabilitation, 554 F.Supp. 873 (N.D. Ga. 1982).
Prisons do not have to recognize common-law marriages without marriage licenses for purposes of conjugal visits. Mary of Oakknoll v. Coughlin, 475 N.Y.S.2d 644 (App. 1984).
Inmates can be auxiliary guards with limited powers. Ruiz v. McKaskle, 724 F.2d 1149 (5th Cir. 1984).
Prison employee properly dismissed for selling firearms to recently released felon. W. Va. Dept. of Corrections v. Leamasters, 313 S.E.2d 436 (W. Va. 1984).
Inmates may open outside savings accounts monitored to ensure withdrawals not made to buy drugs. In Re Parker, 198 Cal.Rptr. 796 (App. 1984).
Each state may determine whether prisoners may be allowed to vote. Fernandez v. Kiner, 673 P.2d 191 (Wash. App. 1983).
Prisoner might be able to marry former prison employee despite their involvement in trafficking contraband. Lockert v. Faulkner, 574 F.Supp. 606 (N.D. Ind. 1983).
Inmate may be permitted to marry if prison cannot justify reasons against it. Bradbury v. Wainwright, 718 F.2d 1538 (11th Cir. 1983) reversing 538 F.Supp. 377 (M.D. Fla. 1982).
Prison officials enjoined from enforcing revisions of manual since they failed to follow procedures of the California administrative procedure act. Hillery v. Rushen, 720 F.2d 1132 (9th Cir. 1983).
Disciplinary action based on vague prison regulation was improper. Clark v. Maine Dept. of Corr., 463 A.2d 762 (Me. 1983).
Restrictions on inmate marriages must be rationally related to security and rehabilitation interests. Bradbury v. Wainwright, 718 F.2d 1538 (11th Cir. 1983). Statute denying marriage to lifers upheld. Fitzpatrick v. Smith, 456 N.Y.S.2d 902 (N.Y. 1982).
Federal district court in Florida upholds statutory authority of corrections department to promulgate rules on marriage; holds incarcerated inmates may be prevented from marrying. Bradbury v. Wainwright, 538 F.Supp. 377 (M.D. Fla. 1982).
Warnings to inmate to refrain from violating rules, even though rules were not posted, did not violate inmate's rights. Fraciotto v. Reynolds, 550 F.Supp. 146 (S.D.N.Y. 1982).
New York Supreme Court finds state definition of disturbance not impermissibly vague; affirms inmate's disciplinary sentence. Witherspoon v. LeFevre, 440 N.Y.S.2d 375 (App. Div. 1981).
Nevada prison regulations concerning marriage by inmates found to be unconstitutional by a federal court. Salisbury v. List, 501 F.Supp. 105 (D. Nev. 1980).
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