Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Joycelyn M. Pollock
After a person has been found guilty and sentenced to prison, many people assume that the person has (or should have) no rights. Until the 1960s this was, to some extent, true. Federal and state courts refused to hear “prisoner rights” cases or decided such cases in a way that made it clear that prisoners had few, if any, of the rights of free people. In Ruffin v. Commonwealth (1871), for example, the Virginia Supreme Court stated that inmates were a “slave of the state” with only those rights that the state chose to give them. In contrast, the opinion that prisoners have not lost all of their constitutional rights is voiced, for instance, by the Supreme Court in Wolff v. McDonnell (1974): “There is no iron curtain drawn between the Constitution and the prisons of this country.” During the so-called Warren Court era between 1953 and 1969, named after ...