Overton v. Bazzetta, 539 U.S. 126, 9 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

We have recognized that "communication with other felons is a potential spur to criminal behavior." Turner, supra, at 91-92.

Finally, the restriction on visitation for inmates with two substance-abuse violations, a bar which may be removed after two years, serves the legitimate goal of deterring the use of drugs and alcohol within the prisons. Drug smuggling and drug use in prison are intractable problems. See, e. g., Bell, supra, at 559; Block, supra, at 586-587; Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U. S. 517, 527 (1984). Withdrawing visitation privileges is a proper and even necessary management technique to induce compliance with the rules of inmate behavior, especially for high-security prisoners who have few other privileges to lose. In this regard we note that numerous other States have implemented similar restrictions on visitation privileges to control and deter substance-abuse violations. See Brief for State of Colorado et al. as Amici Curiae 4-9.

Respondents argue that the regulation bears no rational connection to preventing substance abuse because it has been invoked in certain instances where the infractions were, in respondents' view, minor. Even if we were inclined, though, to substitute our judgment for the conclusions of prison officials concerning the infractions reached by the regulations, the individual cases respondents cite are not sufficient to strike down the regulations as to all noncontact visits. Respondents also contest the 2-year bar and note that reinstatement of visitation is not automatic even at the end of two years. We agree the restriction is severe. And if faced with evidence that MDOC's regulation is treated as a de facto permanent ban on all visitation for certain inmates, we might reach a different conclusion in a challenge to a particular application of the regulation. Those issues are not presented in this case, which challenges the validity of the restriction on noncontact visits in all instances.

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