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Kentucky Department of Corrections v. Thompson

United States Supreme Court
490 U.S. 454 (1989)


The Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDC) (defendant) maintained an inmate-visitation-privileges policy for the Kentucky State Reformatory. The policy contained a non-exhaustive list of grounds on which visitors could be prevented from seeing inmates. The policy also gave the Reformatory's duty officer the final authority to admit or deny entry to would-be visitors. James Thompson (plaintiff), a Reformatory inmate, sued the KDC on the grounds that the KDC's policy unconstitutionally interfered with Thompson's access to visitors. A federal district court found that: (1) Thompson had a liberty interest in open visitation, (2) this entitled Thompson to due process protections for that liberty interest, and (3) the KDC's visitation policy failed to provide adequate due process. The district court ordered the KDC to revise the policy to provide more due process protection. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Blackmun, J.)

Dissent (Marshall, J.)

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