Ohio Mail and Visitation Prison Regulations and the Evolving Recognition of Prisoners' Rights
Dynamic changes have occurred in recent years in the area of prisoners' rights. The antiquated view that prisoners were without any rights - that prisoners were "slave [s] of the State' – has been replaced by the more progressive view that a prisoner retains all rights of an ordinary citizen except those rights expressly or necessarily taken from him by law. As will be seen below, the areas of mail rights and visitation rights have been particularly dynamic. In light of the changing views regarding prisoners' rights, one may wonder what the current Ohio regulations regarding mail and visitation within prisons are; and more importantly, how well these regulations have kept pace with the newly-evolving court decisions on prisoners' rights. In considering these questions, the following discussion will selectively consider the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Administrative Regulations, paying attention only to those considered of particular interest or those paralleling regulations that have been the subject of litigation in other states. It should be noted that there are few Ohio cases in the general area of prisoners' rights. Consequently, most of the comparisons will be with standards evolving in other jurisdictions.