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Bell v. Wolfish

Significance, Impact, Further Readings


Griffin B. Bell


Louis Wolfish

Petitioner's Claim

Regulations imposed on pretrial confinees by the New York City Metropolitan Correctional Center did not impinge upon pretrial detainees' constitutional rights (who, as temporary inmates awaiting trial, had the constitutional right to be regarded as detainees who were presumed innocent).

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Andrew L. Frey

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Phylis Skloot Bamberger

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger, William H. Rehnquist (writing for the Court), Potter Stewart, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., John Paul Stevens


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

14 May 1979


Respondents' constitutional right to be treated as unconvicted detainees (despite being incarcerated in a municipal jail) were not violated by New York City Metropolitan Correctional Center regulations and restrictions.

Related Cases

  • Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144 (1963).
  • Wolff v. McDonell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974).
  • Rhem v. Malcom, 507 F.2d 333, CA2 (1974).
  • United States ex rel. Wolfish v. Levi, 439 F.Supp. 114 (1977).
  • Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Union, 433 U.S. 119 (1977).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980