Overton v. Bazzetta, 539 U.S. 126, 7 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

need not attempt to explore or define the asserted right of association at any length or determine the extent to which it survives incarceration because the challenged regulations bear a rational relation to legitimate penological interests. This suffices to sustain the regulation in question. See Turner v. Safley, 482 U. S. 78, 89 (1987). We have taken a similar approach in previous cases, such as Pell v. Procunier, 417 U. S. 817, 822 (1974), which we cited with approval in Turner. In Pell, we found it unnecessary to decide whether an asserted First Amendment right survived incarceration. Prison administrators had reasonably exercised their judgment as to the appropriate means of furthering penological goals, and that was the controlling rationale for our decision. We must accord substantial deference to the professional judgment of prison administrators, who bear a significant responsibility for defining the legitimate goals of a corrections system and for determining the most appropriate means to accomplish them. See, e. g., Pell, supra, at 826-827; Helms, supra, at 467; Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U. S. 401, 408 (1989); Jones, supra, at 126, 128; Turner, supra, at 85, 89; Block v. Rutherford, 468 U. S. 576, 588 (1984); Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U. S. 520, 562 (1979). The burden, moreover, is not on the State to prove the validity of prison regulations but on the prisoner to disprove it. See Jones, supra, at 128; O'Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U. S. 342, 350 (1987); Shaw, supra, at 232. Respondents have failed to do so here.

In Turner we held that four factors are relevant in deciding whether a prison regulation affecting a constitutional right that survives incarceration withstands constitutional challenge: whether the regulation has a " 'valid, rational connection' " to a legitimate governmental interest; whether alternative means are open to inmates to exercise the asserted right; what impact an accommodation of the right would have on guards and inmates and prison resources; and whether there are "ready alternatives" to the regulation. 482 U. S., at 89-91.

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