First and Second Circuits Uphold Prison Restrictions in First Amendment Disputes

Last month, in Tyree v. Dennehy, the First Circuit upheld a Massachusetts prison regulation that prohibited prisoners from receiving sexually explicit mail asserting that the mail restriction met the 4-part test enunciated in Turner v. Safley:

Eleven pro se inmates appeal from the district court’s rejection of their challenge to a state regulation banning inmates’ receipt of publications that are “sexually explicit” or feature “nudity,” 103 C.M.R. § 481.15(3)(b), and to a policy banning the display of those publications or other “semi-nude, scantily clad, and/or sexually suggestive material” in inmates’ cells, 103 DOC 400.03(2)(c)(1) & (2). For the reasons given by the district court, Moses v. Dennehy, 523 F. Supp. 2d 57 (D. Mass. 2007), supplemented by the discussion below, we affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendants.

Similarly, the Second Circuit, in Pilgrim v. Luther, recently affirmed a ruling that a prisoner’s First Amendment rights are not violated if he is prohibited from writing material that encourages inmates to participate in work stoppages.

Plaintiff-appellant, an inmate in New York’s correctional system who appears pro se, brought this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants—three prison officials—violated his constitutional rights to free speech and due process of law in the course of an investigation and disciplinary hearing. We write principally to address plaintiff’s argument that defendants retaliated against him, in violation of the First Amendment, for writing a pamphlet that urged inmates to participate in “work stoppages.” We hold that this claim fails as a matter of law.

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3 responses to “First and Second Circuits Uphold Prison Restrictions in First Amendment Disputes

  1. If they want to correct the problems with prison system structuring ,maybe it would prove to be very beneficial for the governor of New York State to contact the governor of Mississippi ! The prison there is run the way all prisons should be run! Rehabilitate them while they are behind bars,not when they get out ! The inmates are treated with kid gloves ,the gloves need to come off ! Programs like Civil Liberties ,and NAACP do not belong in the prisons ! The majority of them didn’t care about victims civil rights ! The way I see it ,and I am not the only one that feels this way , is that when they get incarcerated ,they should not have any rights or special priviledges ! There is another problem that nobody has thought of that would result from pardoning drug dealers ! With them released ,there could be an open season on law enforcement ! Nobody is going to want to be in law enforcement if this happens ! The answer to this is to take guns away from law abiding citizens ! The governmet always takes the easiest way to cure a problem ,that doesn’t make it the best or only solution , but it is the easiest for THEM ! If they are wondering why there haven’t been many going to these camps ,is becasue more of these crimes are getting stiffer verdicts ! Right now the way it stands,the governor is going to treat drug dealers as mosel citizens ! He needs to lose his position . I would rather have someone like Spitzer in that position ,than the one that is in it from a minor indescression !

  2. In my judgment, society should do everything they can to rehabilitate a criminal and/or treat an addict while they are in prison so as to reduce the likelihood of them doing the same heinous thing all over again. The approach that you advocate does not seem to solve anything.

  3. C’mon Matt, you must be persuaded by his prolific use of “!” I tend to agree with you though, providing the tools to change one’s circumstances will hopefully result in far less recidivism than just beating up on them and then eventually casting them back into society no better equipped to live a law-abiding life than they were before.

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