BELL v. WOLFISH

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
77-1829
Petitioner 
Bell
Respondent 
Wolfish
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
(Argued the cause for the petitioners)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

A class action lawsuit challenged the legality of conditions facing pretrial detainees in a New York City correctional facility. Petitioners claimed that double-bunking, restrictions on reading materials that inmates were allowed to receive, and required cavity searches and shakedowns amounted to punishment before conviction.

Question 

Do certain conditions of confinement violate the individual liberty, due process, and privacy of pretrial detainees as protected by the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments through the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for Bell, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Due Process

No. The Court found that that the conditions of confinement did not infringe upon a pretrial detainee's rights. Justice Rehnquist's opinion argued that the issue of prison management is ripe with "judgment calls" which rest outside the jurisdiction of the judiciary. As long as administrative practices are implemented in the genuine interest of "safeguarding institutional security" then they do not warrant judicial scrutiny and are consistent with the Constitution.

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BELL v. WOLFISH. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 27 August 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1978/1978_77_1829>.
BELL v. WOLFISH, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1978/1978_77_1829 (last visited August 27, 2014).
"BELL v. WOLFISH," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 27, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1978/1978_77_1829.