Prison Restrictions on Lawyers Visits
Prison authorities can implement reasonable restrictions on visits between an inmate and his or her attorney if necessary for prison security. (People v. Torres, supra, 218 Cal. App. 3d at p. 706; Department of Corrections v. Superior Court (1982) 131 Cal. App. 3d 245, 253-255 182 Cal. Rptr. 294.)
In cases involving security measures affecting prisoner rights, the starting point is Penal Code section 2600, which provides in relevant part:
"A person sentenced to imprisonment in a state prison may during that period of confinement be deprived of such rights, and only such rights, as is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests."
Indeed, the principle that restriction of an inmate's constitutional rights may not extend beyond that which is reasonably necessary for prison security concerns has been embraced repeatedly by the nation's highest court. (See Pell v. Procunier (1974) 417 U.S. 817 94 S. Ct. 2800, 41 L. Ed. 2d 495; Bell v. Wolfish (1979) 441 U.S. 520 99 S. Ct. 1861, 60 L. Ed. 2d 447; Block v. Rutherford (1984) 468 U.S. 576 104 S. Ct. 3227, 82 L. Ed. 2d 438; Turner v. Safley (1987) 482 U.S. 78 107 S. Ct. 2254, 96 L. Ed. 2d 64.)
For example, in Turner v. Safley, supra, 482 U.S. at page 89 107 S. Ct. at page 2261, the United States Supreme Court held:
"When a prison regulation impinges on inmates' constitutional rights, the regulation is valid if it is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests." THE HIGH COURT WENT ON:
"In our view, such a standard is necessary if 'prison administrators . . ., and not the courts, are to make the difficult judgments concerning institutional operations." (Ibid.)
Under California law, the warden of a state prison has the authority to supervise, manage and control the institution and its inmates. (See Pen. Code, 2079, 5054.)
California Code of Regulations, title 15, section 3173, subdivision (h) provides that the degree of physical contact permitted between inmates and visitors will vary among the institutions depending upon the institution's overall security requirements, the custody classification and assignment of individual inmates, and upon the degree of risk that visiting will present to the safety of persons and for the introduction of dangerous contraband.
In determining whether a prison restriction is reasonable, relevant factors are:
(1) whether there is a " 'valid, rational connection' between the prison restriction and the legitimate governmental interest put forward to justify it";
(2) whether there are alternative means of exercising the right;
(3) how the accommodation of the asserted right will impact guards, other inmates and the allocation of prison resources;
(4) whether the restriction is an " 'exaggerated response' " to prison concerns. (Turner v. Safley, supra, 482 U.S. at pp. 89-91 107 S. Ct. at pp. 2261-2263.)
"Prison officials must be free to take appropriate action to ensure the safety of inmates and corrections personnel and to prevent escape or unauthorized entry.
Accordingly, we have held that even when an institutional restriction infringes a specific constitutional guarantee . . . the practice must be evaluated in the light of the central objective of prison administration, safeguarding institutional security.
". . . Prison administrators therefore should be accorded wide-ranging deference in the adoption and execution of policies and practices that in their judgment are needed to preserve internal order and discipline and to maintain institutional security.
'Such considerations are peculiarly within the province and professional expertise of corrections officials, and, in the absence of substantial evidence in the record to indicate that the officials have exaggerated their response to these considerations, courts should ordinarily defer to their expert judgment in such matters.'
We further observe that, on occasion, prison administrators may be 'experts' only by Act of Congress or of a state legislature.
But judicial deference is accorded not merely because the administrator ordinarily will, as a matter of fact in a particular case, have a better grasp of his domain than the reviewing judge, but also because the operation of our correctional facilities is peculiarly the province of the Legislative and Executive Branches of our Government, not the Judicial." ( Bell v. Wolfish, supra, 441 U.S. at pp. 547-548 [99 S. Ct. at pp. 1878-1879], fn. omitted.)