(2) Respondent's decision not to participate in the SATP did not extend his prison term or affect his eligibility for good-time credits or parole. He instead complains about his possible transfer from the medium-security unit where the program is conducted to a less desirable maximum-security unit. The transfer, however, is not intended to punish prisoners for exercising their Fifth Amendment rights. Rather, it is incidental to a legitimate penological reason: Due to limited space, inmates who do not participate in their respective programs must be moved out of the facility where the programs are held to make room for other inmates. The decision where to house inmates is at the core of prison administrators' expertise. See Meachum v. Fano, 427 U. S. 215, 225. Respondent also complains that his privileges will be reduced. An essential tool of prison administration, however, is the authority to offer inmates various incentives to behave. The Constitution accords prison officials wide latitude to bestow or revoke these perquisites as they see fit. See Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U. S. 460, 467, n. 4. Respondent fails to cite a single case from this Court holding that the denial of discrete prison privileges for refusal to participate in a rehabilitation program amounts to unconstitutional compulsion. Instead, he relies on the so-called penalty cases, see, e. g., Spevack v. Klein, 385 U. S. 511, which involved free citizens given the choice between invoking the Fifth Amendment privilege and sustaining their economic livelihood, see, e. g., id., at 516. Those cases did not involve legitimate rehabilitative programs conducted within prison walls, and they are not easily extended to the prison context, where inmates surrender their rights to pursue a livelihood and to contract freely with the State. Pp. 38-41.
(3) Determining what constitutes unconstitutional compulsion involves a question of judgment: Courts must decide whether the consequences of an inmate's choice to remain silent are closer to the physical torture against which the Constitution clearly protects or the de minimis harms against which it does not. The Sandin framework provides a reasonable means of assessing whether the response of prison administrators to correctional and rehabilitative necessities are so out of the ordinary that one could sensibly say they rise to the level of unconstitutional compulsion. P. 41.
(d) Prison context or not, respondent's choice is marked less by compulsion than by choices the Court has held give no rise to a self-incrimination claim. The cost to respondent of exercising his Fifth Amendment privilege—denial of certain perquisites that make his life in prison more tolerable—is much less than that borne by the defendant in, e. g., McGautha v. California, 402 U. S. 183, 217, where the Court upheld a procedure that allowed statements made by a criminal defend-Page: Index Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007