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Vitek v. Jones
United States Supreme Court
445 U.S. 480, 100 S. Ct. 1254, 63 L. Ed. 2d 552 (1980)
In 1974, Jones (defendant) was sentenced to three to nine years in a Nebraska prison for robbery. Six months into his prison sentence, Jones was placed in solitary confinement, where he set fire to his mattress and suffered severe burns. Jones was treated for his burns in a private hospital. After recovery, Jones was transferred to the security unit of a state mental hospital pursuant to Nebraska law, which authorized the transfer upon findings by a psychiatrist that Jones was mentally ill and could not receive adequate care at the prison. Jones challenged the transfer, arguing that transfers of mentally ill inmates to mental hospitals implicate liberty interests that require that he be afforded due-process protections. A state district court ruled in Jones’s favor, indicating that mentally ill inmates must be afforded minimal procedural protections, including being appointed legal counsel if indigent. Nebraska’s director of correctional services, Vitek (plaintiff), appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)
Concurrence (Powell, J.)
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