You receive a complaint from an inmate who claims that his case manager would not give him stamps and envelopes to mail a complaint against five correctional officers who took his playing cards and domino chips during recreation. The inmate also complained that the notary only comes to the prison 2 days a week and that this interfered with his due process right of access to the courts.
You look into the complaint and find out that the inmate had money to purchase the envelopes and stamps but that he spent it on soft drinks and chips in the prison commissary. The staff is upset because the inmate just mailed out several Christmas cards and letters. The inmate now has no funds to purchase the requested items. As the reviewing official, you decide to review the allegations.
Explain the right of access to the courts that inmates have under the Fifth Amendment and what this entails. Address issues such as whether inmates have an absolute right to legal items whenever they request them. Do inmates have a right to a notary 7 days a week?
Focus your discussion on the following:
- If the above situation were taken to court, what do you think would be the ruling? Why?