Brief Fact Summary. Inmates brought suit over a Missouri Corrections regulation that permitted inmates to marry only with permission of the prison superintendent and allowed for approval only when compelling reasons exist.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The reason for the rule did not have a reasonable relationship to the goals of the penal system, therefore the prisoner’s constitutional right to marriage was violated.
Facts. The Missouri Division of Corrections had regulations permitting inmates to marry only with the permission of the superintendent of the prison, and allowing for such approval only when there are compelling reasons to do so. Prison officials testified that generally only a pregnancy or the birth of an illegitimate child where considered compelling. Plaintiff inmates brought a class action suit for injunctive relief and damages.
Issue. Should a different rule apply in a prison forum that does not include marriage as a constitutionally protected right?
If the rule burdens prisoner’s constitutional rights, should the restriction be tested under a reasonableness standard?