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MEACHUM V. FANO, 427 U. S. 215 (1976)

U.S. Supreme Court

Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215 (1976)

Meachum v. Fano

No. 75-252

Argued April 21, 1976

Decided June 25, 1976

427 U.S. 215


The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment held not to entitle a duly convicted state prisoner to a factfinding hearing when he is transferred to a prison the conditions of which are substantially less favorable to him, absent a state law or practice conditioning such transfers on proof of serious misconduct or the occurrence of other specified events. Such a transfer does not infringe or implicate a "liberty" interest of the prisoner within the meaning of the Due Process Clause. Pp. 427 U. S. 223-229.

(a) Given a valid conviction, the criminal defendant has been constitutionally deprived of his liberty to the extent that the State may confine him and subject him to the rules of its prison system so long as the conditions of confinement do not otherwise violate the Constitution. P. 427 U. S. 224.

(b) The Due Process Clause does not, in and of itself, protect a duly convicted prisoner against transfer from one institution to another, and that life in one prison is much more disagreeable than in another does not, in itself, signify that a Fourteenth Amendment liberty interest is implicated when a prisoner is transferred to the institution with the more severe rules. P. 427 U. S. 225.

(c) To hold that any substantial deprivation imposed by prison authorities triggers the procedural protections of the Due Process Clause would subject to judicial review a wide spectrum of discretionary actions that traditionally have been the business of prison administrators, rather than of the federal courts. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U. S. 539, distinguished. Pp. 427 U. S. 225-227.

(d) Whatever expectation the prisoner may have in remaining at a particular prison so long as he behaves himself, it is too ephemeral and insubstantial to trigger procedural due process protections as long as prison officials have discretion to transfer him for any reason whatsoever, or for no reason at all. P. 427 U. S. 228.

520 F.2d 374, reversed.

Page 427 U. S. 216

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 427 U. S. 229.

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