Bell V. Wolfish Case Brief

Bell V. Wolfish Case Brief

Style:                Bell v. Wolfish

U.S Supreme court 1979

Procedural History: At the preliminaries court hearing, the Federal District Court ruled against the pretrial detainees’ facility demands. Thus, the defendant won the case. The court ruled on the constitutional ground.

The court of appeal affirmed the Federal District Court’s ruling leading to a repeat winning of the defendant.

Issue: (A). What are the constitutional rights and regulations pertaining pretrial detainees on their behaviors, publisher only rule of hardcover books which fail to be directly mailed by the relevant authorities, body cavity searches, receiving of personal items and food by the inmates from outsiders, double-bunking of inmates and pretrial detainees stepping outside their rooms during Metropolitan Correctional Centre’s routine inspection? Whether the conditions accorded to the inmates amounted to their punishment or were just purposeless and arbitrary punishments.

  1. B) whether people should believe on the courts’ decision that it is under constitutional regulations to deprive pretrial employees of their wish to enjoy opportunities such as single room occupying, being inspected while inside the room, receiving of personal items and food from outsides and enjoying freedom of receiving published books without publishing restrictions among other issues.

Holding:  The constitutional regulations define the bell v wolfish case as both the Federal District Court and United States court’s ruling was determined by the constitutional guidelines. Therefore, according to the court’s ruling, there exists no violation of the pretrial detainees’ rights as a result of denying them the freedom to getting food and personal items from outsiders, sharing a room with their fellow inmates and stepping outside their respective rooms during inspection among other issues they had raised. The conditions were found by the court to be mere restrictions which amounted to detainee’s punishment and not arbitrary or purposeless. For instance, there was no respondent’s violation of rights as a result of double-bunking restrictions in the Metropolitan Correctional Centre according to both courts as it only imposed punishment. This was per the fifth amendment’s clause. Besides, the 60 days pretrial inmates release in Metropolitan Correctional Centre implied that double-banking restriction of employees was not a punishment.

Rules:  In evaluating the solution to the restrictions at stake, the court determined the constitutional restriction about pretrial detainees’ freedom. For instance, the first amendment right pertaining the “the publisher only” on Metropolitan Correctional Centre handles the issue as it prevents contraband book’s smuggling from the outside. It since does not mean that pretrial detainee’s rights are not subjected to limitations and restrictions despite them retaining certain constitutional rights in prison. The contravention of the fifth amendment handles restriction of inmates from receipt of outside packages. The amendment is against outside packages since they are handy devices and may prompt smuggling. The fourth amendment as well handles the issue of cavity searches on pretrial detainees due to the security legitimacy of the institution.

Reasoning:  Both courts relied on the statutory United States regulations to determine the issues at stake concerning the freedom of pretrial inmates at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre. No prior decisions cited.

Facts: The Pretrial detainees were from the Metropolitan Correctional Centre.

The pretrial detainees wanted court’s intervention for their rights against various restrictions such as cavity searches (“Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 1979”). The inmates call for freedom in MCC against the above-named issues.


Words to Define


Probable cause:

Inmates’ rights:





Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520 (1979). Retrieved from