What is the hands off doctrine, law homework help



1. What is the hands off doctrine? What is the stance of the courts today on this. Find an article to support your findings/ research and post it.

The hands off doctrine is a historical policy of the American courts not to intervene in prison management. Courts tended to follow the doctrine until the late 1960’s. It was believed inmates had no rights because they forfeited them upon incarceration. The hands off doctrine is no longer acknowledge today and everyone’s rights are protected whether incarcerated or not.

2. On page 362-3 of your text, there are two pages of court cases. Each of you take a different case(first come, first served) and post the circumstances of the case you have chosen. In other words, post the facts of the case and what led to an appeal. You will have to look up the case to obtain the case from the TU Library. DO NOT use the info from the text but from your research. Post your case in the title of your Db response so others will know what has been posted.


                          Johnson v. California

California Department of Corrections had aunwrittensegregationpolicy.Racial profiling by presuming it would keep down on violence between racial gangs.Presenting racial classifications and placing prisoners in double cells according to race. Prisoners where assigned cells based on their race and segregated from other races for up to 60 days while their future placement be determined. Johnson a AfricanAmerican male incarcerated since 1987 filed a suit stating it violated his Fourteenth Amendment right of equal protection. The Fourteenth Amendment states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Johnson argued that every time he was transferred during his incarceration he was doubled-celled with another African American inmate. He argued that it violated his right to protection by assigning him his cell mates based on their race. Everytime Johnson was transferred from facility to facility he was subjected to 60 day segregation and being placed with an inmate of the same race and being profiled as a new and transferred inmate.Because Johnson did not satisfy the burden of refuting the “common-sense connection” between the policy and prison violence Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals then denied Johnson’s petition for rehearing.

3. Who are the “mentally ill” in prisons? Where do they come from? Why are they in prison? What programs are available in your state prison system for the mentally ill, such as housing, counselling, medications, etc.

The mentally ill in prison are normally inmates who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, and major depression as well as other illnesses. Mentally ill inmates can also apply to those suffering from co-occurring substance abuse and dependence disorders. There are so many mentally ill in the prison and it really boils down to wrong placement. Deciding who  really belongs in prison and who really need to be in a treatment facility is why there are many in prison. With human nature being unstable and unpredictable it is hard to set a certain set of guideline or rules to determine who should be given prison time. It is a challenge and looked at on a case by case basis. Here in and Atlanta we have a pretty good support system at the prison for mentally ill inmates. They were one of the first prison to provide substantial long-term care and treatment for high-security mentally ill inmates.While incarcerated inmates have continuousaccess to trained mental health professionals. 


What is the hands off doctrine? What is the stance of the courts today on this? Find an article to support your findings/ research and post it.

The Hands off doctrine is basically where the courts did not have power to interfere with or supervise prison rules. It gave all power to prison administrators and deemed prisoners slaves of the state. Eventually it was decided that this was ridiculous and was keeping inmates lives in danger in certain situations and was no longer necessary so it was discredited. The hands off doctrine is a thing of the past and is not something that is still practiced today. http://law.jrank.org/pages/1761/Prisoners-Legal-Rights-hands-off-period.html”>Legal Rights of Prisoners – The Hands-off Period</a>

 Who are the “mentally ill” in prisons? Where do they come from? Why are they in prison? What programs are available in your state prison system for the mentally ill, such as housing, counseling, medications, etc.

I believe that the mentally ill in prisons are the one who are assessed and deemed mentally ill by a profession in the field of mental health. Granted there are going to be those who know how to play the system and are mentally ill but do not come across as such just by initial assessment. Mentally ill inmates come from everywhere. There isn’t a set location, ethnicity, or background that are “deemed” as the mentally ill. They can be anyone.  Sometimes mentally ill prisoners are in prison for the purpose of receiving mental health care. Others are there because being mentally unstable doesn’t mean you cannot be a criminal or are exempt from going to jail if you commit a crime. Mental health inmates are housed separately from the rest of the population when it is documented that they are a mental health inmate. Alabama kind of took on a lot of responsibility when they took in more mental health patients due to facilities closing down. There are programs within the Alabama Department of Corrections that keeps the inmates on the proper medications and provides them with the adequate counseling needed. There are therapy sessions, one-on-one counseling and ancillary services for mental health inmates.


The hands off doctrine as defined in the book is a policy for American courts to not intervene in prison management.  The stance today does not follow the doctrine because it was inhumane and afforded prisoners zero rights in prison during its reign. Here is a good article on the history of the doctrine. http://law.jrank.org/pages/1761/Prisoners-Legal-Rights-hands-off-period.html

The supreme court case of Block v. Rutherford was a case relating to visitation and inmate searches. The argument was that pretrial detainees were not allowed contact visits with friends and family. There was also an issue on searches conducted in their absence. They felt it was their right to be present during cell searches to presumably maintain the integrity of a search. The concerns of the jail was that it would be a security risk on both accounts. One, increased visitation and the person being in the area at the time of a search. Regardless, the court acknowledged the concerns and it did not find wrongdoing on the grounds of security reasons. These practices are still in place today.

The mentally ill, or inmates with special needs are defined as “prisoners who exhibit unique physical, mental, social and programmatic needs that distinguish them from other prisoners.” They could be in prison and be considered special needs based on several factors including mental illnesses and drug abuse. Often times the mentally ill who abuse drugs are incarcerated due to policies that lean towards incarceration as opposed to intervention. They can also be perceived as unpredictable and violent. In South Carolina there are facilities with separate housing for special needs and they will be provided mental health care and medication as needed. However, it should be noted that just in 2014, a class action law suit that lasted a decade determined South Carolina’s prison system t with regards to the treatment of these inmates to be unconstitutional. 


In Florence v. Burlington County, Albert Florence was searched 2 times during seven days after his arrest on a traffic violation which he had already paid the fine for.  He filed suit against 2 jail officials stating that the search was illegal because he was being held on a failure to pay a fine, which in his state, New Jersey was not illegal.  U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Rodriquez ruled that Florence’s strip search violated his constitutional rights.  However, two other counties Burlington and Essex officials appealed the decision.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed stating that it was legal to search anyone that was arrested to make sure they had no weapons or illegal drugs on them.  Justice Anthony M. Kennedy affirmed the lower court decision 5-4, that is was legal to search someone who was arrested, and that it did Not violate their constitutional rights.