Tuesday, May 15, 2012

 

Hawaii plays Pope, decides prisoners may not marry, but ACLU is on it


“[a]s a Ward of the State incarcerated in a correctional facility, you are incapable of providing the necessary emotional, financial and physical support that every marriage needs in order to succeed.


by Larry Geller

The ACLU filed a lawsuit today in federal court on behalf of four women who were banned by the state from marrying their fiancés, all of whom are men incarcerated at the Saguaro Correctional Facility in Eloy, Arizona.

Each of the men received a form letter from the State Department of Public Safety explaining the moral (not legal) reason for the denial:

“[a]s a Ward of the State incarcerated in a correctional facility, you are incapable of providing the necessary emotional, financial and physical support that every marriage needs in order to succeed.”

As the ACLU explained, DPS agreed to stop the denials in June of 2011 and issued a written policy on marriage applications, but despite the policy, it continues to deny marriage applications by sending prisoners the form letter. The policy was implemented as a result of ACLU intervention the prior year when the same prison officials denied an applicant the right to marry with the same form letter. The lawsuit today resulted because, despite the new policy, DPS has continued to deny marriage applications on multiple occasions.

The practice of denying prisoners the right to marry was ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78 (1987). Particularly where prisoners wish to marry individuals outside of prison, the Court explained, the State has virtually no interest whatsoever: “where the inmate wishes to marry a civilian, the decision to marry (apart from the logistics of the wedding ceremony) is a completely private one.”

Whether the issue is providing mental health services, conditions in the prisons, or now the right to marry, it has taken federal intervention to force Hawaii’s prison officials to obey the law.

This case will result in avoidable legal fees for taxpayers. There will be no repercussions for errant DPS officials.

It could be settled in moments by a phone call from the Governor to his DPS director (hint).



Comments:

Post a Comment

Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.



Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home

This 

page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Newer›  ‹Older