Resource: Johnson v. California

By: Oyez

February 23, 2005


California prisoner Garrison Johnson alleged in federal district court that the California Department of Corrections used race to assign temporary cell mates for new prisoners. Johnson alleged this violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause. The district court and a federal appellate court ruled against Johnson. The appellate court pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1987 decision in Turner v. Safley, which said a relaxed standard - as opposed to a "strict scrutiny" standard - should be used to determine whether prison regulations are constitutional. The prison's policies were "reasonably related to the administrators' concern for racial violence and thus must be upheld," the appellate court wrote.