The Federal Bureau of Prisons
(FBP) allowed inmates to get mail, but authorized prison officials to
reject certain items.
The prison officials could
reject something if it was "detrimental to the security, good order,
or discipline of the institution or if it might facilitate criminal
activity," but not just because "its content was religious,
philosophical, political, social, sexual, unpopular, or repugnant."
A number of prisoners and
publishers challenged the regulation, claiming that it was an
unconstitutional infringement on the 1st Amendment's right to free speech.
Some of the items that had
been denied were magazines describing poor prison conditions.
The US Supreme Court found the
FBP regulations to be constitutional.
The US Supreme Court
acknowledged that prisoners do retain some 1st Amendment rights.
However, the Court found
that the FBP had a compelling government interest in maintaining order in the prison system, and
that the regulation was rationally related to the interest.
Therefore, the regulations
were ok, even though they infringed on a constitutional right.