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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ind. Decisions - One Indiana decision today from 7th Circuit

In Dana Woods v. Commissioner of Ind. DOC (SD Ind., Magnus-Stinson), an 11-page opinion, Judge Bauer writes:

The plaintiffs are Indiana inmates who filed a class action lawsuit claiming that the Indiana Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) violated their First Amendment Rights by prohibiting them from (1) advertising for pen-pals and (2) receiving materials from websites and publications that allow persons to advertise for pen-pals. District Judge Jane E. Magnus-Stinson granted summary judgment in favor of the IDOC and the plaintiffs appealed. For the reasons set forth below, we find that the IDOC policy on pen-pals is constitutional and affirm. * * *

We close by noting that constitutional rights are not eradicated by one’s incarceration; the liberties enjoyed by the citizenry at large remain available to incarcerated individuals except to the extent that the exercise of such liberties is at odds with the objectives and administration of an effective prison system. Using pen-pal websites to engage in fraud is antithetical to the rehabilitative goals of confinement. Here, the IDOC reasonably perceived that continuing to allow inmates to use the sites would passively enable fraud. The regulation enacted to prevent it squarely addressed the threat and is therefore constitutional.

III. CONCLUSION. For the reasons set forth above, we find that the regulation in dispute is reasonably related to the legitimate penological objective of preventing inmate fraud. Since the plaintiffs have not managed to overcome the hefty burden of disproving the validity of the regulation in their analysis of the Turner factors, we AFFIRM.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 19, 2011 12:33 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions