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Punishing the Innocent - Unconstitutional Restrictions on Prison Marriage and Visitation

NCJ Number
New York University Law Review Volume: 60 Issue: 2 Dated: (May 1985) Pages: 275-303
V L Hardwick
Date Published
29 pages
This note critically examines prison regulation of inmate marriages and visitation hours within the analytical framework provided by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Procunier v. Martinez.
In the Martinez position, the Court struck down California correctional regulations that placed restrictions on the personal correspondence of inmates. While the court noted the usual hands-off attitude of courts toward prison administration and avoided the issue of inmates' free speech rights, it held that an intermediate balancing test must be used in weighing the State interest in prison security and discipline against infringement of the first amendment rights of affected nonprisoners. It is argued that prison regulations that infringe on the fundamental rights of nonprisoners to marry the person of their choice and to visit with family members should not be permitted to stand unless the prison administration can demonstrate that these regulations are necessary to serve important State interests. The hands-off policy of the courts in the area prison administration does a disservice to inmates whose constitutional rights are violated. This disservice is compounded when a similar attitude is taken toward challenges to prison regulations that violate the constitutional rights of inmates' families. The recognition of these rights requires courts to abandon their hands-off policy and apply a more stringent standard of review. 182 footnotes.


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