General Prison Talk Discuss Visitation - Freedom of Association in the Prison Related forums; And the bad news is.......
Although the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (and various precedent cases in the Supreme ...
Visitation - Freedom of Association
And the bad news is.......
Although the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (and various precedent cases in the Supreme Court) guarantee a citizen's right to freely associate, that does not apply to "social association", but rather to "group or organization" association.
The U.S. Supreme Court has expressly recognized that the right to "freedom of association" is implicit in the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. This right is limited to the right to associate for First Amendment purposes (press, speech, religion, etc.).
In summary, what this means (and this is not legal advice) is that there is no inherent right to visit a prisoner, regardless of your marital status. At least I have not found any recent case law that would prohibit the States from enacting such rules.
HOWEVER.....the First Amendment DOES guarantee a citizen's right to redress the government (often through litigation) with regard to restrictions on certain rights. It is possible that the only way such rules of visitation can be quashed is to be litigated.
WOW! I wonder who would be interested in taking that on with a lawsuit?
thank you law dog. I appreciate your help.
I got all excited when you said it was unconstitutional for me to visit my friend with out my husband (he really doesn't like to go). oh well.
Thank you again for looking into it.
Most recently, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed visitation rules of the Michigan Department of Corrections. [OVERTON v. BAZZETTA, 02-94, (U.S. 2003)]. This decision is held to be widely applicable to all States, and envelopes their particular regionalized rules for visitation.
Any regulations established by the DOC of a particular State must bear a "rational relation to a legitimate penological interest", regardless of whether the inmate has a Constitutional right to free association that survives incarceration. The Supreme Court has always had a "hands-off" approach to the administration of prisons, so long as there was no blatant violation of the Constitutional rights of the prison inmate and/or the public.
In "Bazzetta", the Court held that the very object of imprisonment is confinement. An inmate does not retain rights that are inconsistent with proper incarceration. Freedom of association, the Court ruled, is among those rights less compatible with incarceration.
Still, the Court further held that any regulation that restricts a "surviving" Constitutional right must have a "valid rational connection" to a legitimate government interest. Some of the rationale exerted by the MDOC and supported by the Supreme Court is that were it shown that no alternative means of communication existed, it would be some evidence that the regulations were unreasonable. I suppose the DOC could argue that written and telephone communication is available, and therefore, there is no requirement to permit visitation unless the visitor complies with the regulations, since the inmate has not been fully denied his "freedom of association".
I contend that inquiring into the marital status of a visitor has NO legitimate penological interest, since it is certainly not a matter of security and safety of the institution or the public.
I have thoroughly reviewed the "Bazzette" case, and the issue of marital relationship of a visitor, not directly related to the inmate, was not specifically addressed. In my educated opinion, this does leave the door open to broach that particular issue. I fear, however, that a basic foundation of this recent decision would quickly absorb such an argument.
The foundation is that the Supreme Court recognized any limitation of visitors to the institution and the inmate is part of that "legitimate penological interest". Unless you have a lot of money for legal fees, and a ton of spare time to kill, you may just have to take "hubby" along with you to visit your penpal.
Well isn't that just a crock of ****! I am my own person and cannot believe that someone has the right to tell me that I can't visit a prisoner without my husband. Are all states like this??? I hope not.
I agree with ya orange..it is a crock, I was shocked as ever when I first saw all of this coming up on the boards..crazy!
Florange20....the reason most prisons have these rules is to save on trouble. There have been instances where an inmate would have his wife AND girlfriend on his visitation list. When by chance they meet up in the visitation room at the same time, fights erupt. This causes problems for the guards and other family members. Not saying you, but it has happened.
ahhh good point georgia outlaw i had not thought of it from that angle. though it is still frustrating that does make a small amount of sense. to me tho my divorce is old so to think I would need to dig up the papers to show is wild. thanks for the input arri
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