2. Bell v. Wolfish
A companion case to Addington, Bell v. Wolfish also allowed
the Court to distinguish regulation and punishment on sympathetic facts. Confinement
itself was not in issue in Bell, only the conditions of the *357
Bell arose as a challenge to the conditions in which pretrial detainees were
Petitioners, who in the absence
of a criminal adjudication were subjected to the same conditions as convicted
criminals, claimed their confinement was unconstitutional punishment.
The federal district court agreed that the detainees were entitled to different
treatment than convicted felons, holding they could only be deprived of liberty
as a matter of compelling necessity.
The district court then reviewed each of the petitioner's claims in light of
the "compelling necessity"' standard.
The court of appeals was sensitive to the conflict between the
rights of pretrial detainees and the needs of prison administrators. Nonetheless,
the court found that pretrial detainees must be given the rights afforded unincarcerated
and stressed that pretrial
detainees, as legally innocent persons, are entitled to a greater protection
than afforded by the Eight Amendment:
[I]t is not enough that the conditions of incarceration for
individuals awaiting trial merely comport with contemporary standards of decency
prescribed by the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the eighth amendment.
Time and again, we have stated without equivocation the indisputable rudiments
of due process: pretrial detainees may be subjected to only those "restrictions
and privations"' which "inhere in their confinement itself or which are justified
by compelling necessities of jail administration."'
The court of appeals then reviewed each of the factual situations
considered by the district court.
they reached different conclusions on the constitutionality of certain situations,
the district court and the court of appeals agreed that it is constitutionally
impermissible to subject pretrial detainees to the same conditions as convicted
prisoners. The lower courts' reasoning that the presumed innocence of pretrial
detainees requires a finding of necessity before they can be confined
is compatible with the concerns expressed in Gault and Winship that persons
not be deprived of liberty without due process of law.
Yet Justice Rehnquist's opinion for the Supreme Court
rejected this reasoning, stating that the presumption of innocence "has no application
to a determination of the rights of a pretrial detainee during confinement before
his trial has even begun."'
the Supreme Court held that the presumption of innocence has little significance
outside of a criminal trial.
The Supreme Court's determination that innocence does not entitle
a detainee to better treatment stems from its analysis of detention versus punishment.
Rejecting the Winship standard that all detentions are punishments,
the Supreme Court found:
Once the Government has exercised its conceded authority to
detain a person pending trial, it obviously is entitled to employ devices that
are calculated to effectuate this detention. Traditionally, this has meant confinement
in a facility which, no matter how modern or antiquated, results in restricting
the movement of a detainee in a manner in which he would not be restricted if
he simply were free to walk the streets pending trial. . . . And the fact that
such detention interferes with the detainee's understandable desire to live
as comfortably as possible . . . during confinement does not convert the conditions
or restrictions of detention into "punishment."'
Public health jurisprudence has always accepted that detention
to protect the general welfare is not constitutionally impermissible punishment.
If detention is not punishment, then an individual may be detained without full
due process protections.
By basing its
holding on a finding that detention related to criminal law violations is not
necessarily punishment, the Bell Court prepared the way for later determinations
that individuals may be detained to protect the public from criminal activity.
In Bell, the Supreme Court reinforced the parallel
of criminal detention and traditional public health jurisprudence by stressing
that courts should accord great deference to "expert"' prison administrators.
The Bell court recognized that prison officials, like health officers, sometimes
are experts only by statutory title,
but argued that actual expertise is not the only basis for judicial deference.
There is also a structural requirement for such deference, in that "the operation
of our correctional facilities is peculiarly the province of the Legislative
and Executive Branches of our Government, not the Judicial."'
This echoes the courts' assertions that public health decisions are to be made
by legislatures and not by courts.
The Bell Court adopted a simple test for the bounds of administrative
discretion: "It is enough to say that they have not been conclusively shown
to be wrong . . . "
This deference to
expert decision making was carried to its logical extreme in Barefoot v. Estelle,
where the Court allowed experts to decide whether a prisoner should live or
die. Yet, while Barefoot is extreme as to the reach of expert discretion, the
expert decisionmaker did not become involved until after a conviction with full
due process protections. It was left to later cases to allow an expert to confine
a defendant without a criminal conviction.
441 U.S. 520 (1979).
Id. at 523. See United
States ex rel. Wolfish v. Levi, 439 F.Supp. 114 (S.D.N.Y. 1977).
The district court
found that because they were "presumed to be innocent and held only to ensure
their presence at trial, 'any deprivation or restriction of . . . rights beyond
those which are necessary for confinement alone, must be justified by a compelling
necessity."' U.S. ex rel. Wolfish v. Levi at 124 (quoting Detainees of Brooklyn
House of Detention v. Malcolm, 520 F.2d 392, 397 (2d Cir. 1975)).
U.S. ex rel. Wolfish
v. Levi at 124-65.
Wolfish v. Levi, 573
F.2d 118, 124 (2d. Cir. 1978).
Id. (citing Rhem v.
Malcolm, 507 F.2d 333, 336 (2d Cir. 1974)).
"In actuality, we have
here decided not one, but twenty cases relating to specific conditions at the
MCC."' Wolfish v. Levi, 573 F.2d at 133.
See, e.g., id. at 126
(double celling); 130 (telephone privileges); 132 (right to possess a typewriter).
nor the courts below question that the Government may permissibly detain a person
suspected of committing a crime prior to a formal adjudication of guilt."' Bell,
441 U.S. at 534.
441 U.S. 520. Rehnquist's
majority opinion, was joined by four justices, with Justice Powell concurring
in part and dissenting in part.
Winship, 397 U.S. at
Bell, 441 U.S. at 537.
See In re Martin, 83
Cal. App. 2d 164, 188 P.2d 287 (1948).
Bell, 441 U.S. at 536.
See infra note 416-20
and accompanying text.
therefore should be accorded wide-ranging deference in the adoption and execution
of policies and practices that in their judgment are needed to preserve internal
order and discipline and to maintain institutional security."' Bell, 441 U.S.
"We further observe
that, on occasion, prison administrators may be 'experts' only by Act of Congress
or of a state legislature."' Id. at 548.
Id. at 555 (citing
Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Labor Union, 433 U.S. 119, 132 (1976)).
See infra subsection
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