The issue in this case is whether the transfer of a prisoner from a state prison in Hawaii to one in California implicates a liberty interest within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Respondent Delbert Kaahanui Wakinekona is serving a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole as a result of his murder conviction in a Hawaii state court. He also is serving sentences for various other crimes, including rape, robbery, and escape. At the Hawaii State Prison outside Honolulu, respondent was classified as a maximum security risk and placed in the maximum control unit.
Petitioner Antone Olim is the Administrator of the Hawaii State Prison. The other petitioners constituted a prison "Program Committee." On August 2, 1976, the Committee held hearings to determine the reasons for a breakdown in discipline and the failure of certain programs within the prison's maximum control unit. Inmates of the unit appeared at these hearings. The Committee singled out respondent and another inmate as troublemakers. On August 5, respondent received notice that the Committee, at a hearing to be held on August 10, would review his correctional program to determine whether his classification within the system should be changed and whether he should be transferred to another Hawaii facility or to a mainland institution.
Petitioner Olim, as Administrator, accepted the Committee's recommendation, and a few days later respondent was transferred to Folsom State Prison in California.
Rule IV of the Supplementary Rules and Regulations of the Corrections Division, Department of Social Services and Housing, State of Hawaii, approved in June 1976, recites that the inmate classification process is not concerned with punishment. Rather, it is intended to promote the best interests
The Committee is directed to make a recommendation to the Administrator, who then decides what action to take:
The regulations contain no standards governing the Administrator's exercise of his discretion. See Lono v. Ariyoshi, 63 Haw. 138, 144-145, 621 P.2d 976, 980-981 (1981).
Respondent filed suit under 42 U. S. C. § 1983 against petitioners as the state officials who caused his transfer. He alleged that he had been denied procedural due process because the Committee that recommended his transfer consisted of the same persons who had initiated the hearing, this being in specific violation of Rule IV, ¶ 2, and because the Committee was biased against him. The United States District Court for the District of Hawaii dismissed the complaint, holding that the Hawaii regulations governing prison transfers do not create a substantive liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause. 459 F.Supp. 473 (1978).
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, by a divided vote, reversed. 664 F.2d 708 (1981). It held that Hawaii had created a constitutionally protected liberty interest by promulgating Rule IV. In so doing, the court declined to follow cases from other Courts of Appeals holding that certain procedures mandated by prison transfer regulations do not create a liberty interest. See, e. g., Cofone v. Manson, 594 F.2d 934 (CA2 1979); Lombardo v. Meachum, 548 F.2d 13 (CA1 1977). The court reasoned that Rule IV gives Hawaii prisoners a justifiable expectation that they will not be transferred to the mainland absent a hearing, before an impartial committee, concerning the facts alleged in the
In Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215 (1976), and Montanye v. Haymes, 427 U.S. 236 (1976), this Court held that an intrastate prison transfer does not directly implicate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In Meachum, inmates at a Massachusetts medium security prison had been transferred to a maximum security prison in that Commonwealth. In Montanye, a companion case, an inmate had been transferred from one maximum security New York prison to another as punishment for a breach of prison rules. This Court rejected "the notion that any grievous loss visited upon a person by the State is sufficient to invoke the procedural protections of the Due Process Clause." Meachum, 427 U. S., at 224 (emphasis in original). It went on to state:
The Court observed that, although prisoners retain a residuum of liberty, see Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 555-556 (1974), a holding 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." 427 U. S., at 225 (emphasis in original).
Applying the Meachum and Montanye principles in Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480 (1980), this Court held that the transfer of an inmate from a prison to a mental hospital did implicate a liberty interest. Placement in the mental hospital was "not within the range of conditions of confinement to which a prison sentence subjects an individual," because it brought about "consequences . . . qualitatively different from the punishment characteristically suffered by a person convicted of crime." Id., at 493. Respondent argues that the same is true of confinement of a Hawaii prisoner on the mainland, and that Vitek therefore controls.
We do not agree. Just as an inmate has no justifiable expectation that he will be incarcerated in any particular prison within a State, he has no justifiable expectation that he will be incarcerated in any particular State.
Statutes and interstate agreements recognize that, from time to time, it is necessary to transfer inmates to prisons in other States. On the federal level, 18 U. S. C. § 5003(a) authorizes the Attorney General to contract with a State for the transfer of a state prisoner to a federal prison, whether in that State or another. See Howe v. Smith, 452 U.S. 473 (1981).
On the state level, many States have statutes providing for the transfer of a state prisoner to a federal prison, e. g., Haw. Rev. Stat. § 353-18 (1976), or another State's prison, e. g., Alaska Stat. Ann. § 33.30.100 (1982). Corrections compacts between States, implemented by statutes, authorize incarceration of a prisoner of one State in another State's prison. See, e. g., Cal. Penal Code Ann. § 11189 (West 1982) (codifying Interstate Corrections Compact); § 11190 (codifying Western Interstate Corrections Compact); Conn. Gen.
In short, it is neither unreasonable nor unusual for an inmate to serve practically his entire sentence in a State other than the one in which he was convicted and sentenced, or to be transferred to an out-of-state prison after serving a portion of his sentence in his home State. Confinement in another State, unlike confinement in a mental institution, is "within the normal limits or range of custody which the conviction has authorized the State to impose." Meachum, 427 U. S., at 225.
The Court of Appeals held that Hawaii's prison regulations create a constitutionally protected liberty interest. In Meachum, however, the State had "conferred no right on the
These cases demonstrate that a State creates a protected liberty interest by placing substantive limitations on official discretion. An inmate must show "that particularized standards or criteria guide the State's decisionmakers." Connecticut Board of Pardons v. Dumschat, 452 U.S. 458, 467 (1981) (BRENNAN, J., concurring). If the decisionmaker is not "required to base its decisions on objective and defined criteria," but instead "can deny the requested relief for any constitutionally permissible reason or for no reason at all," ibid., the State has not created a constitutionally protected liberty interest. See id., at 466-467 (opinion of the Court); see also Vitek v. Jones, 445 U. S., at 488-491 (summarizing cases).
Hawaii's prison regulations place no substantive limitations on official discretion and thus create no liberty interest entitled to protection under the Due Process Clause. As Rule IV itself makes clear, and as the Supreme Court of Hawaii has held in Lono v. Ariyoshi, 63 Haw., at 144-145, 621 P. 2d, at 980-981, the prison Administrator's discretion to transfer an inmate is completely unfettered. No standards govern or restrict the Administrator's determination. Because the Administrator is the only decisionmaker under Rule IV, we need not decide whether the introductory paragraph
The Court of Appeals thus erred in attributing significance to the fact that the prison regulations require a particular kind of hearing before the Administrator can exercise his unfettered discretion.
In sum, we hold that the transfer of respondent from Hawaii to California did not implicate the Due Process Clause directly, and that Hawaii's prison regulations do not create a protected liberty interest.
JUSTICE MARSHALL, with whom JUSTICE BRENNAN joins, and with whom JUSTICE STEVENS joins as to Part I, dissenting.
In my view, the transfer of respondent Delbert Kaahanui Wakinekona from a prison in Hawaii to a prison in California implicated an interest in liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. I respectfully dissent.
An inmate's liberty interest is not limited to whatever a State chooses to bestow upon him. An inmate retains a significant residuum of constitutionally protected liberty following his incarceration independent of any state law. As we stated in Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 555-556 (1974): "[A] prisoner is not wholly stripped of constitutional protections when he is imprisoned for crime. There is no iron curtain drawn between the Constitution and the prisons
In determining whether a change in the conditions of imprisonment implicates a prisoner's retained liberty interest, the relevant question is whether the change constitutes a sufficiently "grievous loss" to trigger the protection of due process. Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480, 488 (1980). See Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 481 (1972), citing Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123, 168 (1951) (Frankfurter, J., concurring). The answer depends in part on a comparison of "the treatment of the particular prisoner with the customary, habitual treatment of the population of the prison as a whole." Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 486 (1983) (STEVENS, J., dissenting). This principle was established in our decision in Vitek, which held that the transfer of an inmate from a prison to a mental hospital implicated a liberty interest because it brought about "consequences . . . qualitatively different from the punishment characteristically suffered by a person convicted of crime." 445 U. S., at 493. Because a significant qualitative change in the conditions of confinement is not "within the range of conditions of confinement to which a prison sentence subjects an individual," ibid., such a change implicates a prisoner's protected liberty interest.
There can be little doubt that the transfer of Wakinekona from a Hawaii prison to a prison in California represents a substantial qualitative change in the conditions of his confinement. In addition to being incarcerated, which is the ordinary consequence of a criminal conviction and sentence, Wakinekona has in effect been banished from his home, a punishment historically considered to be "among the severest."
I cannot agree with the Court that Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215 (1976), and Montanye v. Haymes, 427 U.S. 236, 243 (1976), compel the conclusion that Wakinekona's transfer implicates no liberty interest. Ante, at 248. Both cases involved transfers of prisoners between institutions located within the same State in which they were convicted, and the Court expressly phrased its holdings in terms of intrastate transfers.
Actual experience simply does not bear out the Court's assumptions that interstate transfers are routine and that it is "not unusual" for a prisoner "to serve practically his entire sentence in a State other than the one in which he was convicted and sentenced." Ante, at 247. In Hawaii less than three percent of the state prisoners were transferred to prisons in other jurisdictions in 1979, and on a nationwide basis less than one percent of the prisoners held in state institutions were transferred to other jurisdictions.
I therefore cannot agree that a State may transfer its prisoners at will, to any place, for any reason, without ever implicating any interest in liberty protected by the Due Process Clause.
Nor can I agree with the majority's conclusion that Hawaii's prison regulations do not create a liberty interest. This Court's prior decisions establish that a liberty interest
The Court misapplies these principles in concluding that Hawaii's prison regulations leave prison officials with unfettered discretion to transfer inmates. Ante, at 249-250. Rule IV establishes a scheme under which inmates are classified upon initial placement in an institution, and must subsequently be reclassified before they can be transferred to another institution. Under the Rule the standard for classifying inmates is their "optimum placement within the Corrections Division" in light of the "best interests of the individual, the State, and the community."
The limitations imposed by Rule IV are at least as substantial as those found sufficient to create a liberty interest in Hewitt v. Helms, supra, decided earlier this Term. In Hewitt an inmate contended that his confinement in administrative custody implicated an interest in liberty protected by the Due Process Clause. State law provided that a prison official could place inmates in administrative custody "upon his assessment of the situation and the need for control," or "where it has been determined that there is a threat of a serious disturbance, or a serious threat to the individual or others," and mandated certain procedures such as notice and a
Rule IV is not distinguishable in any meaningful respect from the provisions at issue in Helms. The procedural requirements contained in Rule IV are, if anything, far more elaborate than those involved in Helms, and are likewise couched in "language of an unmistakably mandatory character." Id., at 471. Moreover, Rule IV, to no less an extent than the state law at issue in Helms, imposes substantive criteria restricting official discretion. In Helms this Court held that a statutory phrase such as "the need for control" constituted a limitation on the discretion of prison officials to place inmates in administrative custody. In my view Rule IV, which states that transfers are intended to ensure an inmate's "optimum placement" in accordance with considerations which include "his changing needs [and] the resources and facilities available to the Corrections Division," also restricts official discretion in ordering transfers.
The Court suggests that, even if the Program Committee does not have unlimited discretion in making recommendations for classifications and transfers, this cannot give rise to a state-created liberty interest because the prison Administrator retains "completely unfettered" "discretion to transfer
For the foregoing reasons, I dissent.
"An inmate's . . . classification determines where he is best situated within the Corrections Division. Rather than being concerned with isolated aspects of the individual or punishment (as is the adjustment process), classification is a dynamic process which considers the individual, his history, his changing needs, the resources and facilities available to the Corrections Division, the other inmates . . . , the exigencies of the community, and any other relevant factors. It never inflicts punishment; on the contrary, even the imposition of a stricter classification is intended to be in the best interests of the individual, the State, and the community. In short, classification is a continuing evaluation of each individual to ensure that he is given the optimum placement within the Corrections Division." App. 20.
Respondent attempts to analogize his transfer to banishment in the English sense of "beyond the seas," arguing that banishment surely is not within the range of confinement justified by his sentence. But respondent in no sense has been banished; his conviction, not the transfer, deprived him of his right freely to inhabit the State. The fact that his confinement takes place outside Hawaii is merely a fortuitous consequence of the fact that he must be confined, not an additional element of his punishment. See Girouard v. Hogan, 135 Vt., at 449-450, 378 A. 2d, at 106-107. Moreover, respondent has not been exiled; he remains within the United States.
In essence, respondent's banishment argument simply restates his claim that a transfer from Hawaii to the mainland is different in kind from other transfers. As has been shown in the text, however, respondent's transfer was authorized by his conviction. A conviction, whether in Hawaii, Alaska, or one of the contiguous 48 States, empowers the State to confine the inmate in any penal institution in any State unless there is state law to the contrary or the reason for confining the inmate in a particular institution is itself constitutionally impermissible. See Montanye, 427 U. S., at 242; id., at 244 (dissenting opinion); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972); Fajeriak v. McGinnis, 493 F. 2d, at 470.
"An inmate's/ward's classification determines where he is best situated within the Corrections Division. Rather than being concerned with isolated aspects of the individual or punishment (as is the adjustment process), classification is a dynamic process which considers the individual, his history, his changing needs, the resources and facilities available to the Corrections Division, the other inmates/wards, the exigencies of the community, and any other relevant factors. It never inflicts punishment; on the contrary, even the imposition of a stricter classification is intended to be in the best interests of the individual, the State, and the community. In short, classification is a continuing evaluation of each individual to ensure that he is given the optimum placement within the Corrections Division." App. 20.
"The facility administrator will, within a reasonable period of time, review the Program Committee's recommendation. He may, as the final decisionmaker:
"(a) Affirm or reverse, in whole or in part, the recommendation; or
"(b) hold in abeyance any action he believes jeopardizes the safety, security, or welfare of the staff, inmate/ward, other inmates/wards, institution, or community and refer the matter back to the Program Committee for further study and recommendation." App. 21.
To the extent that Lono v. Ariyoshi, 63 Haw. 138, 144-145, 621 P.2d 976, 980-981 (1981), on which the majority relies, ante, at 249, suggests that no liberty interest is created as state law has not entirely eliminated the possibility of arbitrary action, it is inconsistent with both Helms and Greenholtz.