Prison Law and Court Decisions

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ensures that citizens have the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Furthermore, it ensures citizens that “no warrants shall be issued, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” (Cornell Law School, n.d.)

However, as previously noted, incarcerated individuals have diminished constitutional rights. As such, inmates do not enjoy the same constitutionally protected rights to privacy. Despite the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals originally determining that inmates have limited privacy rights in their cell assignments, in Hudson v. Palmer (1984), the Supreme Court details why incarcerated persons have no expectation of privacy within their cells or property. In 2012, Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders re-affirmed that in the balancing of competing interests (an offender’s individual right to privacy versus a society’s need for security), the correctional institution’s need to promote a secure environment justifies a policy of routine or arbitrary strip searches. Furthermore, Bell v. Wolfish (1979) holds that body cavity searches by correctional staff are neither unreasonable nor unconstitutional.

Referencing at least 3 credible sources and using proper APA format and guidelines, submit a 4–5-page paper that addresses the following:

Summarizes the facts of Hudson v. Palmer
Discuss an offender’s limited privacy right in his or her housing assignment as authorized by the Court of Appeals, including the state’s objection to the Court of Appeals’ decision that allowed offenders to have a limited privacy right. (Hint: The Court of Appeals wanted to determine the purpose of the cell search.)
Discuss the Supreme Court’s decision in Hudson v. Palmer in light of the Fourth Amendment.
Specifically, discuss the 2 interests in balance when determining whether an expectation of privacy is legitimate or reasonable.
Discuss whether a prisoner’s expectation of privacy in his or her prison cell is the kind of expectation that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable.
Summarize the facts of Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Summarize the facts of Bell v. Wolfish.
Discuss at least 5 of the penological determinants for random and nonrandom searches of offender housing units, both with and without justification.


Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520 (1979).

Cornell Law School. (n.d.). Fourth amendment. Retrieved from

Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, 566 U.S. 318 (2012).

Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517 (1984).

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