Overton v. Bazzetta, 539 U.S. 126, 5 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

have been terminated, the child may not be a visitor. Rule 791.6609(6)(a) (1999). A child authorized to visit must be accompanied by an adult who is an immediate family member of the child or of the inmate or who is the legal guardian of the child. Rule 791.6609(5); Mich. Dept. of Corrections Procedure OP-SLF/STF-05.03.140, p. 9 (effective date Sept. 15, 1999). An inmate may not place a former prisoner on the visitor list unless the former prisoner is a member of the inmate's immediate family and the warden has given prior approval. Rule 791.6609(7).

The Department's revised policy also sought to control the widespread use of drugs and alcohol among prisoners. Prisoners who commit multiple substance-abuse violations are not permitted to receive any visitors except attorneys and members of the clergy. Rule 791.6609(11)(d). An inmate subject to this restriction may apply for reinstatement of visitation privileges after two years. Rule 791.6609(12). Reinstatement is within the warden's discretion. Ibid.

Respondents are prisoners, their friends, and their family members. They brought this action under Rev. Stat. 1979, 42 U. S. C. 1983, alleging that the restrictions upon visitation violate the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. It was certified as a class action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.

Inmates who are classified as the highest security risks, as determined by the MDOC, are limited to noncontact visitation. This case does not involve a challenge to the method for making that determination. By contrast to contact visitation, during which inmates are allowed limited physical contact with their visitors in a large visitation room, inmates restricted to noncontact visits must communicate with their visitors through a glass panel, the inmate and the visitor being on opposite sides of a booth. In some facilities the booths are located in or at one side of the same room used for contact visits. The case before us concerns the regulations as they pertain to noncontact visits.

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