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Final Essay

2182 words - 9 pages

Throughout the history of the United States, prison systems have been successively affected by judicial system rulings. Both the Federal Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court have made momentous rulings since 1941 evolving the correctional facilities of today. Although the Court of Appeals is not as high as the Supreme Court in the judicial branch, two influential decisions that have affected today’s prison system are Sandin v. Conner in 1995, and Holt v. Sarver in 1971. Comparatively, the Supreme Court made significant ruling in Cooper v. Pate in 1964 as well as in the 1978 case of Hutto v. Finney. Each case was unique and for that reason the rulings were as unique as the cases themselves. This led to unprecedented rulings with lasting effects to set precedents for the prison system. Today, Antonin Scalia is the Supreme Court justice with the most influence on the procedures that must be followed by correctional facilities.
During the 1900’s the judicial branch of America revolutionized the prison system. The Federal Appeals Court played a vital role in this progressive era. One case from 1995, Sandin v. Conner, set a standard for inmates liberty interests. During a strip search, Sandin misbehaved and as a consequence received 30 days in segregated confinement. At the disciplinary hearing he was not allowed to bring witnesses which, in conjunction with the segregated confinement, Sandin felt violated his 14th amendment rights. This case was brought up to the Appeals court who ruled the 30 day sentence did not fringe upon his liberty interests. The court went on to justify this ruling by informing society that we must focus attention on the nature of the loss rather then written laws and policies. The action of Sandin not presenting a type of atypical deprivation that would institute a liberty interest also reinforced the ruling. This ruling positively affected the prison system of America. Courts now had to respect the decisions made by correctional officers when constitutionally practical. Correctional officers now had more power to administer punishments to inmates. The impact this decision had on the prison system is still unchanged today. Prisons now had the power to move inmates among facilities or from general population, and remove inmates from job assignments linked to good time credits with out due process following disciplinary hearing guidelines appropriately. In a 1974 case, Wolff v. McDonnell, guidelines were established to protect liberty interests of inmates with due process but did not apply to this case. The Appeals court made a second historic ruling in the 1971 case, Holt v. Sarver. In this case the Arkansas correctional system was found to be in violation of the 8th amendment. Holt and other inmates brought up a suit against the Arkansas commissioner of corrections Robert Sarver. Holt stated that the prison administered inadequate health care, was harshly unsanitary, lacked protection for inmates from assaults with the...

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