OLIM V. WAKINEKONA, 461 U. S. 238 (1983)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238 (1983)

Olim v. Wakinekona

No. 81-1581

Argued January 19, 1983

Decided April 26, 1983

461 U.S. 238


Petitioner members of a prison "Program Committee," after investigating a breakdown in discipline and the failure of certain programs within the maximum control unit of the Hawaii State Prison outside Honolulu, singled out respondent and another inmate as troublemakers. After a hearing -- respondent having been notified thereof and having retained counsel to represent him -- the same Committee recommended that respondent's classification as a maximum security risk be continued and that he be transferred to a prison on the mainland. Petitioner administrator of the Hawaii prison accepted the Committee's recommendation, and respondent was transferred to a California state prison. Respondent then filed suit against petitioners in Federal District Court, alleging 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, contrary to a Hawaii prison regulation, and because the Committee was biased against him. The District Court dismissed the complaint, holding that the Hawaii regulations governing prison transfers did not create a substantive liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court of Appeals reversed.


1. An interstate prison transfer does not deprive an inmate of any liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause in and of itself. Just as an inmate has no justifiable expectation that he will be incarcerated in any particular prison within a State so as to implicate the Due Process Clause directly when an intrastate prison transfer is made, Meachum v. Fano, 427 U. S. 215; Montanye v. Haymes, 427 U. S. 236, 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. Confinement in another State is within the normal limits or range of custody which the conviction has authorized the transferring State to impose. Even when, as here, the transfer involves long distances and an ocean crossing, the confinement remains within constitutional limits. Pp. 461 U. S. 214-18.

2. Nor do Hawaii's prison regulations create a constitutionally protected liberty interest. Although a State creates a protected liberty interest

Page 461 U. S. 239

by placing substantive limitations on official discretion, Hawaii's prison regulations place no substantive limitations on the prison administrator's discretion to transfer an inmate. For that matter, the regulations prescribe no substantive standards to guide the Program Committee whose task is to advise the administrator. Thus, no significance attaches to the fact that the prison regulations require a particular kind of hearing before the administrator can exercise his unfettered discretion. Pp. 461 U. S. 248-251.

664 F.2d 708, reversed.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and WHITE, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, and in Part I of which STEVENS, J., joined, post, p. 461 U. S. 251.

Page 461 U. S. 240

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