CRJS435-U2IP-Assignment Overview Unit 2-Individual-Project
Facts Surrounding Turner v. Safley
Turner v. Safley’s case illustrates how policies and legislative acts in correctional facilities continue to be challenged by offenders. In the selected case, the Missouri Division of Corrections (DoC) introduced a regulation that limited correspondence between inmates who were not family members unless the communication related to legal matters or it was at the discretion of the classification team of both inmates (“Turner v. Safley,” n.d.). Furthermore, the DoC regulated marriage among inmates, and only permitted the latter to marry with the permission of the prison superintendent, under strict conditions (“Turner v. Safley,” n.d.). While correctional facilities are granted the legal right to regulate practices that they believe pose a threat to the security of the institution, the district court, and Courts of Appeals affirmed that the marriage restriction violated the constitutional right to marry and the regulation of correspondence was overly broad.
Considerations of the Turner Test
The Turner test tried to balance the established regulations in correctional facilities with the constitutional rights of inmates, and it consisted of four considerations. First, the analysis assessed whether there existed a logical connection between regulation and prison’s security interest (“Turner v. Safley,” n.d.). The test also evaluated the extent to which established rules hindered prisoner’s constitutional rights and whether the dismissal of the established restriction would have a significant adverse impact on the security of the institution. Also, the Turner test monitored the availability of alternative policies to help meet the penological goals of the facility.
Ensign Amendment of 1997
The Ensign Amendment of 1997 was enacted by Congress to regulate the use of prison funds in the distribution of commercial materials that were considered sexually explicit to prison inmates.
Facts of Jordan v. Sosa
The Jordan v. Sosa case involved a lawsuit filed by Mark Jordan, a prisoner at the Bureau of Prisons’, challenging the constitutionality of the Ensign Amendment. Notably, Jordan argued that the Ensign Amendment violated the First and Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause (“Jordan v. Sosa,” n.d.). Additionally, the plaintiff argued that the implementation of the Amendment was unconstitutional.
Facts of Jordan in Relation to the Turner Test
Considerations of the Turner Test were applied to the Jordan v. Sosa case. As noted by the magistrate judge, the first prong of the Turner test related to the lawsuit filed by Jordan. Notably, the juror observed that one of the requirements of the Turner test is that there ought to be a valid, rational connection between a constitutional restriction and a legitimate governmental interest (“Jordan v. Sosa,” n.d.). In the context of the Jordan v. Sosa case, it was established that there was a valid penological interest of the correctional facility to restrict the distribution of sexually explicit material. As such, the constitutional limitation of the prisoner’s liberty was upheld by the court.
Facts of Beard v. Banks
Similar to the Jordan v. Sosa is the Beard v. Banks case that involved a lawsuit filed by a prisoner challenging the constitutionality of a restriction implemented by Pennsylvania houses. Notably, the Long-Term Segregation Unit (LTSU) had the policy to impose restrictions on level 2 inmates, including denying prisoners at this level access to newspapers, magazines, and photographs (“Beard v. Banks,” n.d.). Ronald Banks challenged this regulation, arguing that it violated the First Amendment. On the contrary, the Secretary of the PA Department of Corrections reasoned that the rule was vital to help promote rehabilitation among inmates and ensure prison safety (“Beard v. Banks,” n.d.). The District Court upheld the policy of the institution, but the Third Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the ruling on the basis that the regulation did not meet the considerations of the Turner Test.
Facts of Beard in Relation to the Turner Test
The LTSU policy was evaluated against the four prongs of the turner test to determine its validity for application in the institution. First, it was assessed whether the prohibition of prisoners’ access to the commercial materials was rationally related to the penological goal of the institution. In the view of the Supreme court, the policy had a legitimate purpose of motivating good behavior (“Beard v. Banks,” n.d.) Second, it was argued that the restriction did not abridge the prisoner’s constitutional right as, in return for the implementation of the policy, the inmates at level 2 could quickly reform and transfer to less-restrictive levels. Third, it was held that there were no alternative means to accomplish the facility’s goals without the implemented restriction (“Beard v. Banks,” n.d.). Lastly, it was argued that overruling the policy would negatively affect the institution. Based on the evaluation of the Turner Test, it was held that the policy would prevail.
Facts Surrounding Holt v. Hobbs
Holt v. Hobbs is also a case that illustrates the lawsuits filed against the implementation of policies that restrict constitutional liberty among prisoners. Notably, Gregory Holt filed an injunction and temporary relief from the grooming policy enforced by the Arkansas Department of Corrections, arguing that it violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“Holt v. Hobbs,” n.d.). The policy prohibited inmates from keeping facial hair, a rule that Holt argued inhibited the practice of his religion. Following a hearing by the district court, it was affirmed that the policy was valid, and it facilitated the penological goals of the institution.
Facts of Holt in Relation to the Turner Test
The Holt v. Hobbs case was evaluated against the considerations of the Turner Test. First, it was observed that the policy enforced by the Arkansas Department of Corrections failed to abridge the constitutional rights of the inmate to practice his religion. Notably, evidence was presented regarding other ways in which the prisoner was allowed to practice his faith (“Holt v. Hobbs,” n.d.). The policy was also evaluated against the consideration of whether it exhibited a compelling government interest to maintain security in the institution. According to the Supreme court, there were other ways for the prison officials to foster safety, such as ensuring the identification of contraband (“Holt v. Hobbs,” n.d.). Following the analysis, it was established that the prison’s policy failed to meet the considerations of the Turner Test.
In my opinion, I tend to agree with the Turner Test as it applies to correctional administration and offender rights because it provides room for rigorous scrutiny of policies from both a legal and rational perspective. For example, using the Turner Test, jurors can evaluate legislative acts against various Amendments of the constitution to determine whether a given policy in a correctional facility infringes on inmates’ constitutional rights. Furthermore, the test allows the jurors to scrutinize rules further from a rational perspective, such as evaluating whether the dismissal of established regulations may pose adverse effects on the security of a correctional institution. The fact that the Turner Test allows judges to view policies from multiple perspectives makes the instrument ideal for application to correctional administration and offender rights.
“Beard v. Banks.” (n.d.). Oyez. https://www.oyez.org/cases/2005/04-1739
“Holt v. Hobbs.” (n.d.). Oyez. https://www.oyez.org/cases/2014/13-6827
“Jordan v. Sosa.” (n.d.). Casetext. https://casetext.com/case/jordan-v-sosa-2
“Turner v. Safley.” (n.d.). Oyez. https://www.oyez.org/cases/1986/85-1384