Should Deference Be Accorded to Prison Authorities In Giving Judgement ?

In Beard v. Banks, U.S., 126 S. Ct. 2572, 165 L. Ed. 2d 697 (2006), the United States Supreme Court similarly emphasized the deference that must be given to the view of prison officials. In Beard, an inmate brought a challenge to a policy of the Department of Corrections (DOC) restricting certain prisoners' access to newspapers, magazines and photographs. The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment in favor of DOC. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari, and reversed and remanded the matter. In doing so, the United States Supreme Court emphasized the deference to be afforded prison officials when it wrote: the Court recognize that at this stage we must draw 'all justifiable inferences' in the inmate's 'favor.' In doing so, however, the Court must distinguish between evidence of disputed facts and disputed matters of professional judgment. In respect to the latter, our inferences must accord deference to the views of prison authorities. Unless a prisoner can point to sufficient evidence regarding such issues of judgment to allow him to prevail on the merits, he cannot prevail at the summary judgment stage. Beard, U.S. at, 126 S. Ct. at 2578.