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Greenholtz v. Inmates of Nebraska Penal & Correctional Complex
United States Supreme Court
442 U.S. 1 (1979)
Inmates of the Nebraska Penal and Correctional Complex (the inmates) (plaintiffs) sued Greenholtz, the chairman of the Nebraska Board of Parole (the board) (defendant) challenging the constitutionality of the state’s parole procedures. Nebraska’s parole statute provided that if deciding whether to release an inmate on parole, the board “shall order his release” unless the board decided to defer the inmate’s release due to any of four specified reasons. The parole process itself consisted of two phases. In the first phase, the board reviewed an eligible inmate’s file and conducted an informal interview with the inmate. During this interview, the inmate was allowed to present written statements in support of his release. If, after this initial phase, the board considered the inmate a viable candidate for parole, it would conduct a second hearing before making its decision. Inmates who were denied parole were notified of the reasons for the denial. The inmates claimed the language of Nebraska’s statute created a legal expectation of parole protectible by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. They further claimed that the existing parole process fell short of due-process requirements. The district court found the board’s approach did not satisfy due process. On appeal, the circuit court affirmed, finding for the inmates and requiring the board to afford every inmate a formal hearing and to provide a statement of evidence relied upon by the board to every inmate denied parole. The board filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, which the United States Supreme Court granted.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.J.)
Concurrence/Dissent (Powell, J.)
Dissent (Marshall, J.)
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