Utah State inmate Oliver Benjamin Gerrish can't keep his television and radio in his cell.
Nor can the prison get rid of them as it planned to do.U.S. District Judge Aldon Anderson ruled that prison officials did not violate Gerrish's constitutional right to property when they changed prison policy to prohibit privately owned radios and televisions in prison cells.
"However, because (Gerrish) acquired and retained the television and radio with the permission and assistance of prison officials, the prison should also provide reasonable assistance in the disposal of the property in a reasonable way," Anderson wrote.
He instructed prison officials to help all prisoners who had similar property in their cells at the time the policy changed dispose of that property. The prison must store prisoners' property until they have been given enough time to give the property away or offer it for sale, the judge said.
Because Gerrish is incarcerated, prison officials may have to help him sell his television and radio. That help may include securing bids from local used appliance dealers, the judge said.
Gerrish's claim that the confiscation of his TV and radio violated his fifth and 14th amendment rights does not stand, Anderson said. Prison officials have good reason to restrict use of privately owned TVs and radios in prison cells. The restriction may reduce conflicts over ownership, concealing of contraband in the property and conversion of the property to weapons or escape devices, Anderson wrote.
The new policy allows inmates to rent state-owned televisions and radios.