The defendant, a prison inmate, was subjected to a prison cell search, or “shakedown.” The officers discovered a ripped pillow case and charged the defendant with destruction of government property.
Whether a prison inmate has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a prison cell?
No. Society is not willing to recognize that prisoners have a legal right to exclude the government from their cells.
Prisoners are afforded only those rights not fundamentally inconsistent with imprisonment itself or incompatible with the objectives of incarceration (to be free from racial discrimination and cruel and unusual punishment, to petition for redress of grievances, certain First Amendment religious and speech protections, due process). However, imprisonment also entails a series of personal deprivations. One of those deprivations, rationally and logically, is the loss of personal privacy. The Court held that “society is not prepared to recognize as legitimate any subjective expectation of privacy that a prisoner might have in his prison cell and that, accordingly, the Fourth Amendment proscription against unreasonable searches does not apply within the confines of the prison cell.”
468 U.S. 517, 104 S. Ct. 3194 (1984)